The Student Panic Attack Survival Guide (Part 3: Where to Get Help/Learn More)

This is the final installment of a series on anxiety and panic attacks. First, we took a look at what a panic attack is, what it feels like, and why the brain/body responds to stress with panic attack symptoms; second, we discussed coping strategies, and listed some one-size-fits-all methods for working with a panic attack.

I’ve had a few people send me messages (or tell me in person!) that this miniseries has been helpful to them in addressing and accepting their own anxiety/panic attacks/mental health issues in general. To everyone who’s come with me on this journey, thank you. I’m glad you took something useful away from this. I’m glad you know you’re worth the work that goes into healing. This isn’t the last time I’m going to be writing on these issues–there’s so much to say that I don’t even feel like I’ve scratched the surface. Mental health is complex and fascinating and deeply relevant to everyone–and everyone has something to say about it.

Really. They do. And a lot of them are better at it than me.

To that end, I’ve compiled a list of resources for people who experience anxiety/panic attacks. Feel free to send it to your loved ones and general allies as well–knowledge like this is valuable no matter whether you personally suffer from mental illness.

Please note that this list is a work in progress, and will remain that way as long as this blog is active! If you want to submit a resource, please leave a comment or contact me directly, and I’ll add it in.

Panic Attack List-o-Lists

Because there are other great resource lists out there already. I recommend skimming through them all for individual tips/tricks/strategies/etc that suit you individually!

  • Reddit has several subreddits focusing on mental health, including /r/anxiety and the more specific /r/PanicAttack. PanicAttack is great if you’re looking for some comfort/reassurance/support, or if you need to read other people’s experiences in order to validate your own (and perhaps one day share your experience so others might do the same!).
    • The Anxiety subreddit also has a constantly-updated, well-curated list of online resources which contains all sorts of in-depth tutorials and downloadables regarding panic attacks and self-care/coping strategies.
  • This self-care masterpost for anxiety lists a bunch of cool online distraction-type items for if you’re feeling the beginnings of an episode and don’t know how to guide your mind away from it. Some of my favourites include the galaxy maker and the “distracting music maker”, which I used to use a LOT back in the day (in fact I still have some old screenshots of the melodies I produced!)
  • The Elephant Blue is a resource page dedicated to high school/university students struggling with mental health issues. (Not anxiety-specific, it also covers depression and suicidal thoughts/feelings, alongside resources for self-management and care.) Curated by an old friend of mine–one or two of the links are dead, but the vast majority are still exemplary resources!

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Understanding Panic Attacks

Want to dig deeper into neurotransmitters, or the fight/flight/freeze response, or any of the things that make a panic attack tick? Start here!

  • The WebMD and Mayoclinic pages on panic attacks/panic disorders. Good for getting a more thorough understanding of panic attack physiology, symptoms, and treatment options. Hooray for professionals!
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s panic attack page. They also have in-depth information about other similar mental health issues, like agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • How Stuff Works article on panic attacks. These folks give lots of information on the physiological side of a panic attack, and they have plenty of credible sources for you to follow up on if you want to do more research.
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Art by Nervous Comics

Coping With Panic Attacks

Need help designing your own plan of action when it comes to coping with your attacks? Don’t know where to start in developing your store of coping strategies? These links will help you to get on your feet.

  • The ‘You Feel Like Shit’ Interactive Self-Care Guide. I linked to this in Part 2, and I’m linking again, because it’s so compact and user-friendly and effective. Click through to get some gentle, practical guidance on managing your anxiety.
  • WikiHow on coping with panic attacks. They split it up into three sections, a) handling panic attacks in the moment, b) managing anxiety, and c) getting help. I think the illustrations are sweet. And it’s been reviewed by a mental health professional!
  • Dr. David Carbonell’s key to overcoming panic attacks. I cannot recommend this website enough. The information is credible, the articles are well-written and specific, and there are tons of free resources. A lot of the time anxiety-themed websites can get pushy about buying their workbooks/counseling sessions/whatever, but this human just wants people to feel better. Finding this information–and putting it into practice–was when I hit a turning point and started coping with my attacks as gracefully as I do now.
  • “Some Cognitive-Behavioural Self-Help Strategies”, a pdf published by Nottingham Trent U’s Student Services. Deconstructs the cycle of a panic attack and gives practical exercises to help de-escalate things at every stage of the attack.
  • BONUS: ANXIETY COMICS! A collection of 24 great comics illustrating their creators’ struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. If you felt alone before, these will show you just how much company you have, and just how good that company is. Some of my favourites are #2, 10, and 23. (If you notice, I’ve also taken a few photos from this article!)

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Recommendations for The Anxious Bookworm

Reading is one of my coping strategies; it’s also an amazing feeling when you find a really engaging or funny story that features anxiety or mental health as an issue. It reminds you that there are people out there who a) cope with the same problems as you and b) have also managed to take their struggles and make them into something helpful and beautiful.

  • The Humans, by Matt Haig. This book is in my top 5 favourite books of all time, and my partner says it’s changed everything about how she looks at life and the universe and other people. A friend recommended it to me by screencapping one of the last chapters, titled “Advice for a human”. Here’s a little teaser:

    1. Shame is a shackle. Free yourself.
    2. Don’t worry about your abilities. You  have the ability to love. That is enough.
    3. Be nice to other people. At the universal level, they are you.
    4. Technology won’t save humankind. Humans will.
    5. Laugh. It suits you.
    6. Be curious. Question everything. A present fact is just a future fiction.
    7. Irony is fine, but not as fine as feeling.
    8. Peanut butter sandwiches go perfectly well with a glass of white wine. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
    9. Sometimes, to be yourself you will have to forget yourself and become something else. Your character is not a fixed thing. You will sometimes have to move to keep up with it.

  • Walking on Custard and The Meaning of Life: A Guide for Anxious Humans. Written by Neil Hughes and illustrated by Tom Humberstone, the webpage features one of the funniest and most original blurbs I’ve ever seen. Endearing and familiar and worth your time!

That’s all for now. From one Anxious Nugget to another, I hope you find what you need. Remember that my metaphorical door is always open (and my literal one if you ask fellow eAmbassador Krysta) and that I’m always ready with some encouragement/comfort/reassurance/RealTalk.

Be informed. Be compassionate. And be patient.

Lots of love,

~Sisi

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