This article provides information about panic attacks and how to get appropriate support.

Anxiety is a very common issue, affecting many students, and for some students this can include the experience of panic attacks. It is common to try to deal with anxiety by avoiding the situations that feel like they are causing these feelings. Avoidance may feel like it gives temporary relief, but in fact it makes the problem increasingly worse - and can, in fact, be a factor in triggering panic attacks.

It is always advisable to let your personal tutor or course leader know if you are having difficulties affecting your studies - they are there to help, and can offer useful advice and support. It is also worth talking to friends or other students to see if they can offer support eg. by going to classes together.

You can learn skills to help you deal with panic attacks, and there is a lot of other support available:

Courses and workshops

The Student Wellbeing Service hosts a range of workshops and courses for learning skills to tackle common issues like stress and anxiety.

We offer a workshop specifically focusing on panic as well as our popular 'Keep Calm' course, both of which runs several times a term. Other relevant workshops might include exam anxiety, procrastination, perfectionism, and being a better friend to yourself. You may also find it helpful to attend a course on mindfulness. See our course and workshop programme to find out more.

All students also have free access to a set of online courses, called SilverCloud, to learn evidence-based strategies for tackling common issues. The 'Space from Anxiety' course might offer a good starting point. These courses can be accessed confidentially and completed independently, in your own time and at your own pace. Find out more and register directly at the Online Resources article.

Student Wellbeing Service

The Student Wellbeing Service offers confidential help with a wide range of personal and emotional concerns and is available to every student at the University, free of charge. All kinds of students find their way to us from all over the University and for all sorts of reasons. We often support students to deal with panic attacks.

The service has three strands: wellbeing advice, counselling, and mental health advice. They are all linked together so when you apply you only have to approach us once – we will sort out which one is most likely to meet your needs. In addition to the individual support we offer, we also liaise closely with local NHS services and can arrange for you to access the NHS Talking Change talking treatment service via initial sessions on campus.

To contact us or register for support see our article on accessing support from the Student Wellbeing Service.

Talking Change

Talking Change is a free NHS service offering supported self-help and talking therapies (mainly cognitive behaviour therapy) for people registered with a Portsmouth GP and with difficulties with anxiety or depression. Self-referral is possible by completing the online referral, or your GP can refer you. You can also access Talking Change on campus, via the Student Wellbeing Service.

Library books

The University library has copies of the following books which could be useful:

  • Silove, D & Manicavasager, V - Overcoming Panic - 616.852230651/SIL
  • Williams, C, Dr - Overcoming anxiety, stress, and panic: a five areas approach - 616.852206/WIL

Other resources

If you would like to research more around the topic of anxiety and panic, the Student Wellbeing Service can recommend the following self help resources:

  • CBT Self-help workbooks
    From a very well-regarded Australian site, these popular downloadable CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) workbooks provide clear, easy to read information along with short exercises and activities to learn and apply skills for tackling common issues. Many students have found these materials helpful. Choose from:
    Panic stations for coping with panic attacks
    What me, worry? for mastering generalised anxiety
    Shy no longer for coping with social anxiety
    Helping health anxiety for health-focused anxiety
  • NHS Booklets on Anxiety and Panic
    This page links to a series of excellent booklets providing information and self-help activities to learn skills for common issues, including stress, anxiety, panic, obsessions and compulsions, sleep, anger and health anxiety.
  • No Panic website
    This website provides support including phone calls for a range of anxiety related fears such as OCD, panic attacks, general anxieties.
  • E-Couch
    Free online resource which provides information about common emotional problems and practical help in treating them, with a range of strategies and exercises and an online workbook to track progress and record experiences. Includes a specific programme for anxiety and worry.
  • Mental Health Foundation Wellbeing Podcasts
    Free downloadable audio podcasts to help you relax, sleep and improve your general sense of wellbeing. They're designed to fit around your lifestyle and provide an introduction to the skills and techniques that can help you live a mentally healthier life.
  • Anxiety UK
    National charity providing help and advice for people with phobias and other anxiety problems. The site offers informative factsheets and self-help guides, a helpline staffed by people who have lived with anxiety, an online support group, chat-room and self-help program available to members (membership involves a small charge), and (fee-based) therapy services in a range of locations (with webcam and telephone therapy services available in other areas and for people who are struggling to leave the house).
  • Triumph Over Phobia
    (TOP UK) – A UK charity which helps people with phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and other related anxiety, to overcome their fears, running a network of self-help therapy groups. Structured groups meet weekly and are run by trained volunteers. The charge of £2.50 per week to attend a group is waived for those on low incomes. Nearest group Southampton.

 


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