Panic Attack: Public Anxiety Number 1

April 22, 2014 Gabe Howard

What’s worse than a panic attack? Having panic induced publicly. This blog entry offers an interesting look at dealing with public panic and anxiety.

What’s worse than a panic attack? Having panic induced publicly. In many cases, the public display of anxiety is more troubling than the attack itself. Having an anxiety attack is quite a bit to worry about and adding in the concern for how you are perceived by the people watching is another level entirely.

What’s worse than a panic attack? Having panic induced publicly. This blog entry offers an interesting look at dealing with public panic and anxiety.Like many, I have certain triggers for my attacks and clues that give me a "head's up" that trouble might be brewing. I consider these sorts of panic attacks to be the all-stars of the anxiety world. They are, without a doubt, the best kind of anxiety to have. They suck when they hit, but at least I can see them coming.

In life, the things that really knock me on my butt are all the things I don't see coming. Midnight phone calls, sucker punches, and last-minute cancellations all throw me off my game. An anxiety attack without warning is like a blizzard in summer. The confusion alone is enough to knock me out.

Move Along; Nothing to See Here

My heart starts to race, my skin starts to moisten with sweat, my vision begins to blur, and my breathing becomes shallow. And suddenly I’m crippled by two horrifically competing issues:

  1. I am in trouble and need to find a safe place to calm down.
  2. People are watching me and will want an explanation.

I would love to live in a world where "I am having a panic attack" is just as acceptable a statement as "I am having stomach pains." But I only live in that world when I’m with my family and friends. They are the select and wonderful few who understand what I go through.

No one else understands. I can try to explain it to them and have a chance of welcoming them into my world. I can educate them about my illness and enlighten them to the larger world of living with an anxiety disorder. I can be an educator, an advocate, a shining example of the power of positive thinking, hopefulness, and human triumph.

Or I can tell them I have diarrhea and run to the bathroom and hide. Because, even though I strive to be understood, even though I fight against discrimination, even though I know better than to feel in any way “embarrassed” to have this disorder, the truth is that, most days, I’d rather people believe I’m about to fill my pants than know I have a mental illness.

You can find Gabe on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and his website.

APA Reference
Howard, G. (2014, April 22). Panic Attack: Public Anxiety Number 1, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 14 from

Author: Gabe Howard

July, 29 2014 at 10:33 am

I got a service dog, for my ptsd,, yes I have panick attacks from my ptsd, but anyway he has helped me cope in public so much. He is a life savor for me

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
July, 29 2014 at 1:03 pm

Steve - I am glad to hear this! I do not have a service animal -- but I do have friends and I do like animals. I am glad that you have found something to help you when you need it. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. ~Gabe

Nica George
July, 28 2014 at 7:35 pm

If your cells are healthy then you are healthy!
Have a nice day!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
July, 29 2014 at 12:59 pm

Thank you for reading and commenting, Nica! :)

Dr Musli Ferati
May, 23 2014 at 12:21 am

To make a distinction between normal and pathological social fright is difficult and perplex issue, both: for clinical psychiatrist and for patient with panic disorder.Indeed,to be trouble to any social situation is normal emotional reaction, but if this disturbance ruins our global life equilibrium, then the social fear become psychiatric occasion. As to belong to public anxiety as type of panic disorder the explanation is of the same kind. Everyone with panic attack make efforts to overcome this obnoxious emotional experience by several psycho-social activity in order to camouflage its unpleasant condition. It is your need to display the panic attack in any hiding place, beyond public. It is your choice, and it is OK. But this way isn't universal rule to manage public anxiety. There are may others ways to soften panic disorder such is meditation, physical exercise and so on. It depend of intensity and longevity of these kind of emotional troubles. But, competent and complete treatment of panic disorder is professional duty to clinical psychiatrist. Otherwise, we risk to complicate the condition with any depressive implantation, as serious and dangerous psychosomatic disorder.

May, 1 2014 at 5:28 am

Enjoyed your post. I can identify too well.
Just felt the need to pipe in that I think on an individual level people are more understanding than I ever thought possible. Or at least those who know someone with a mental illness or have it themselves. Accidentally mentioned a panic attack to a coworker and was horrified. They simply agreed they're a horrible experience.
Clearly when you're having one doesn't need to be a teaching moment but the more we talk about mental illness in general, the more people will understand it or at the very least know that they're not alone.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
May, 1 2014 at 9:58 am

I couldn't agree more, j9. Teaching moments don't always have to be grand gestures. Simply being honest or letting people know you understand is valuable. Thank you for your comments and reading! ~Gabe

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 28 2014 at 8:12 pm

Gabe, love your blogs on anxiety. have been unable to cope with my anxiety for more than half my life. Am getting to the place where I struggle to keep my head up anymore. Reading your blogs make me feel a lot stronger and let me know I am not alone and that there "is" someonoe else in this world that understands. Bless you. And Thank you!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
July, 29 2014 at 1:01 pm

Linda, thank you so very much. I have found a lot of strength in knowing I wasn't alone. I try to write from the heart and let people know how I am feeling and how this disorder has changed, or affected, me. I am very happy you enjoy my work. Thank you for reading and commenting! Hugs, Gabe

April, 28 2014 at 5:18 am

Nice Blog! To motivate many people about panic disorder information there are many tension and worries in our mind this is the basic Panic Anxiety disorder.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
April, 28 2014 at 8:08 am

Thank you for your kind words and for reading. :) ~Gabe

April, 26 2014 at 11:02 pm

this has been happening to me soooo much at work lately. I just blame it on "stomach pains because when i haven't eaten i get super angry" so i get my lunch break to go and calm down. Id have everybody up my ally if i said "im having an anxiety attack i have to go NOW!" everyone always wants to know why are you having anxiety why are you stressed? why why why. its not exactly something you can explain when i barely understand myself. ugh its the most embarrassing part is freaking out in front of someone and then having to apologize and give a fake explanation as to what set me off.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
April, 28 2014 at 8:17 am

It is amazing the difference between an illness people understand (stomach pains, diarrhea, throwing up, etc) and an illness people don't (anxiety, panic, etc). Folks are often much nicer when they understand a disorder. This is the primary reason I believe that education is key to reducing discrimination and stigmatization of people living with mental illness. Thank you for your kind words and for reading. ~Gabe

April, 23 2014 at 3:38 pm

It would be great if we could use those situations as teaching moments. Too bad the best teaching moments come when I am at the least likely to be able to capitalize on the opportunity. If I could only be at my best when I am at my worst!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
April, 24 2014 at 12:24 am

Thank you for commenting, Jenn. You are not wrong and I often think of that. Too bad we can't "win 'em all!" ~Gabe

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