Panic attack before work (Tips)

Panic attack before work

In this guide, we will discuss “panic attack before work” and certain tips that may be helpful when managing the symptoms, before going to the office or workplace.

Panic attack before work

A panic attack before work can be very disheartening, frustrating, exhausting and fear can certainly take over. Panic attacks can happen at any time, any place and without a warning which can be very unfortunate and make us over worry because of it, since having a panic attack in front of colleagues or your boss is never ideal and very inconvenient. 

However, feeling a bit anxious and stressed from time to time is normal. We all do experience it at some point in our lives, but everyone seems to be affected and handling it in a different way. For instance, it can be a source of stress starting a new job or changing careers, planning a wedding, losing someone you love, the birth of a child, financial problems, moving to a new house, etc.

In some cases, stress and anxiety are considered a good thing, since it can motivate and provide the necessary amount of adrenaline to help you meet a deadline, for example. It is also considered necessary during situations we may be in danger or could be potentially threatening, making us act quickly and make fast decisions during dangerous situations.

Panic attack before work (Tips)

While in these cases we can see how stress and anxiety can be a normal part of our lives,  having an anxiety disorder (e.g. Social Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety, Phobias, etc.) is a whole different situation. For instance, many would argue that if you start feeling anxious before work or even start having panic attacks it could be that you are dealing with work anxiety. 

In addition, we can add how panic attacks can be common, and they are defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions.” Some of those physical reactions or symptoms can include such as a sudden feeling of intense fear, faster heartbeat, faster breathing rate, sweating, trembling, feeling nauseous or dizzy, chest pain, among others. 

According to Sarah Small from JAN, “A variety of accommodation ideas might be explored as a way to help. Leave time is a common idea associated with panic attacks. For example, employees might need to leave work after having an attack, or might need to stay home for the day if they have an attack before work. Panic attacks can be physically exhausting and sometimes recovery time is needed.”

Is there something my employer can do to help?

Communicating with your employer can be beneficial as well as counter-productive, depending on the outcome. For some employers, their employees are very important, so they would try to accommodate situations and find solutions for their employees to feel safe and better at their workplace.

For instance, arrangements can be made to tell an employee in advance about monthly meetings or have a notice a few days before the meetings, so he/she can prepare for it. Another scenario can involve adjusting the environment someone is used to work on, for example, if they are working at a very noisy place, and they tend to startle easily, then their workplace can be adjusted such as finding a quieter office or letting the employee use headphones to block the noise.  

Panic attack before work (Tips)

In addition, if you had a panic attack before work, you could talk to your employer and implement a temporary measure of telework (when possible) so you have time to recover from it but still manage to fulfill your duties.

Finally, let’s imagine you are starting a new medication and you are still adjusting. If you talk to your boss or your supervisor about it, they may make arrangements so you can have extra breaks (temporary measure) where you could go somewhere quiet or somewhere you consider a good place to calm down while having a panic attack. 

Having a panic attack = getting fired?

You may worry about getting fired by having a panic attack before work or just right in the middle of it. The more you worry about having a panic attack before or in the middle of your job duties, you are more prone to have one. Catastrophizing tends to feed the anxiety and make things worse, where it is possible to spiral out of control soon enough.

Panic attack before work (Tips)

It is a vicious cycle since worrying about getting anxious and having a panic attack keeps going on and on if this chain of thought is not stopped at some point. The idea here is to talk to yourself in a nice and gentle way, and soothe your mind. How can you do that?, here we propose some tips on how to manage your anxiety before work.

  1. Acceptance of what you are feeling as real

Mental health problems are thought to be “less real” than medical conditions that manifest themselves very physically. In this matter, the ADAA recognizes how anxiety disorders are real and serious medical conditions that actually need treatment since they won’t simply go away on their own. They are as real as having diabetes, hypertension or suffering from heart disease just does not really have an “organic/physical origin” or “real explanation”. 

When you are having a panic attack before work, you may have thought about how you can cause a negative impression in your employer, how they can think you are just trying to evade your duties or that you don’t have the willingness to do your assigned activities. However, this is far away from reality, but we sometimes ignore it has to do with your performance or the way you can fulfill your duties with good quality. 

Panic attack before work (Tips)

Moreover and according to Ana Sandoiu from Medical News Today “When you’re at work, a place where you’re expected to perform and be at your best, it can be difficult to admit to vulnerabilities and cut yourself some slack. But try to remember your anxiety is real, just as real as the most painful migraine or a really bad stomach ache — and you deserve to take care of yourself, just as you would if you had those physical conditions.”

  1. You won’t get fired over a panic attack

As discusses, having a panic attack won’t actually make you a bad employee per se. Thinking about the worst and the “What ifs” can actually make you feel more anxious and worried, challenge those thoughts and find actually facts, in reality, to back them up. For instance, “How many people get fired over a panic attack?” or “Having a mental illness means you will inevitably reduce your productivity and become a bad employee?”.  

There are many laws that protect employees from getting fired because you have a disability or a mental illness. 

As a recommendation, if you have a panic attack before work try calling someone you trust, so they can help you or just simply hear you out. Probably they can give you advice and a different perspective to tackle this and find a solution. 

  1. Perceiving stress as beneficial, not a problem!

 Rethinking stress is a bit difficult since we have been programmed our entire life to “hate” being stressed or just feeling tremendously uncomfortable. Instead of seeing stress as an enemy, we can make it work for us as Health psychologist and world-renowned speaker Kelly McGonigal explains. 

“The first step is to acknowledge stress when you experience it. Simply allow yourself to notice the stress, including how it affects your body.”

“The second step is to welcome the stress by recognizing that it’s a response to something you care about. Can you connect to the positive motivation behind the stress? What is at stake here, and why does it matter to you?”

“The third step is to make use of the energy that stress gives you, instead of wasting that energy trying to manage your stress. What can you do right now that reflects your goals and values?”

Why is this blog about panic attack before work important?

As discussed, having a panic attack before work can be frightening, frustrating and exhausting so it is normal you may feel like asking for the day off or being able to telework just so you can recover from it. Remember, mental health problems are real and need your attention and treatment.

Communicating to your employer about your mental health does not have to be something traumatic, but the decision is entirely up to you since you are not obligated to share such details with your employer, however, if you probably are looking for them to make some adjustments to your workplace then they need to know.

Please feel free to comment in the comments section. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about panic attack before work

What is the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack?

A panic attack doesn’t necessarily have a specific stressor, it is unprovoked and unpredictable, while an anxiety attack appears when there is a stressor and when it goes away so does the anxiety attack. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks can share some of the symptoms so it is easy to think both are the same in nature.

Can I be fired for having panic attacks?

No, you should not get fired for having panic attacks, or due to any other recognized mental or medical condition. There are many laws that protect employees against unfair treatment or being fired because of it. However, it is always recommended to see a mental health professional, take your medication (if you are being medicated) and follow the instructions. 

What do I do if I have a panic attack at work?

Having a panic attack at work can be something normal but due to the impact it can have, you may feel ashamed, embarrassed or even frustrated. Here are some tips on how to cope with a panic attack at work:

– Focus on your breathing and acknowledging the physical symptoms instead of trying to avoid them. 

– Try not to leave your workspace but if necessary, have a designated “safe place” close to it.

– Write down how you feel before and after the panic attack since it can help you identify triggers and handle the situation differently next time.

– If you feel comfortable enough, attempt to talk to your boss about it.

– If it gets too overwhelming, consider getting professional help.

How can I stop anxiety before work?

To stop your anxiety from taking over before going to work you may be able to manage it with the following:

– Practising self-awareness, recognizing the physical symptoms and accepting them instead of avoiding them.

– Sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone you care about and trust.

–  Challenge your thoughts and attempt to rationalize them to stop catastrophizing.

– Recognize when to ask for help. If what you are feeling is too overwhelming or is impacting your life significantly.

– Take some time off work. 

What happens to your body during a panic attack?

During a panic attack, hormone adrenaline is flowing through your body alerting your body from a potential threat. This prepares your body to fight the threat or run away from it. In the end, this is the reason why you have a faster high rate, breathing rate, start sweating, your muscles are tense, etc. 

Recommended reading

  • Making Friends with Anxiety: A warm, supportive little book to ease worry and panic – 2019 edition
  • Panic Attacks Workbook: A Guided Program for Beating the Panic Trick
  • anxiety disorder self-help: GAD, health anxiety, OCD, panic attack, phobia and PTSD (Anxiety Disorder Self-Help Series Book 1)
  • Managing Panic Attacks 2019: 2: 25 supportive Options – to help calm attacks (The Life Series)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Retrain your Brain to Overcome Depression, Anxiety and Panic Attacks with CBT

References 

Small, S. “Panic Attacks, they Don’t always wait until after hours”. Retrieved from Askjan.org.

Sandoiu, A. (2017, Nov.) Five things to remember when you’re dealing with work anxiety. Retrieved from Medicalnewstoday.com.

Panic attack before work (Tips)

Daniela Paez

Daniela Paez is a Clinical Psychologist with an MSc. In Clinical Neuropsychology from Bangor University. She has vast experience in working with children with disabilities, adolescents and their families, in extreme conditions of poverty and vulnerability. Additionally, she owns a private practice where she provides neuropsychological evaluation for children and adults, and treatment for mood disorders, anxiety, couple therapy, among other conditions.