Mini panic attacks: The sudden bursts of dreadful sensations

Himanshu Dani 1 Reply

Panic attacks
mini panic attacks

You often experience brief but intense anxious moments. They are mini panic attacks. These attacks last for just a few seconds and are often precursors to full-blown panic attacks. They are like quick shocks that startle you and often fuel your anxiety.

You get a few hard heartbeats, tingling in the body and head and dizziness in just a matter of seconds. This gives you discomfort and makes you scared for some time. They can appear out of the blue when the hidden life situations cause them or they can be situational.

Mini panic attacks are a common experience of people diagnosed with panic disorder. This article is designed to help you understand how to deal with these mini panic attacks and stay tension free while going out or away from home.

Mini panic attacks are not associated only with panic disorder. People without any anxiety issues often have mini panic attacks in their daily lives. But they are highly situational and fade away quickly because they show up themselves only in the protective sense. For example, a sudden loud sound or a mishap at the split second startles us. That is nothing but a mini panic attack. This panic is beneficial for life because it saves us from possible dangers but the cause is altogether different for the people with anxiety disorders. 

See: Overcoming panic attacks: Are you getting miserable over other’s misery?

The situations where you get mini panic attacks:

1. Anxiety while doing physical activity

Panic attack sufferers often experience mini panic attacks when they do even small physical activities. They can be anything like moving a heavy couch or climbing stairs 2-3 floors.
These regular small activities feel very tiresome and they cause instant palpitations and shortness of breath. You also feel weakness in the legs instantly after a physical activity. Sufferers have these panic attacks because of the hyperactive nervous system.

Because you are an anxiety sufferer your nervous system is always on the edge. The overactive nervous system produces the sensations of anxiety because the physical stress triggers it to produce the sensations.
It triggers the release of adrenaline in the body for a moment of time. This quick but brief trigger of the fear mechanism because of physical activity gives you mini panic attacks.

How does it affect you? 

  • You can develop a fear of fast heart rate. 
  • It can disrupt your routine exercise
  • It can prevent you from doing heavy physical work. (although you perfectly fine)
  • You may think that you have some medical issue related lungs.  

HOW to cope with physically triggered mini panic attacks?

• Increase stamina and be physically fit.
• Eat healthy and fresh food and avoid junk food.
• Don’t be scared by shortness of breath or palpitations.
• Know that just fear of heart attack does not cause a heart attack.


2. Angst when you are late at something

Have you ever experienced the agitation when you are in hurry and when you are rushing for something? That has happened with almost every one of us. Most often that happens when we are late for office, for some important meeting or some important work that has to be done timely. This is a very good example of physical plus mental stress and no wonder it invites anxiety and commonly those mini panic attacks!

This anxiety also has physical triggers. Whenever you are rushing in hurry you put your body in that arousal mode which acts as a trigger for anxiety. And along with that the mighty worry that- “I’m getting late, I must run fast” ignites mental stress which leads to anxiety and panic.

How does it affect you? 

  • The hurry or the worry of some loss invites anxiety.
  • In case you are late for work, your important worry is how will you face your boss.
  • The sense of getting late and lagging behind in accomplishing makes you anxious.

HOW to cope with Anxiety triggered by rush and hurries?

• Create concrete plans for the important tasks that you have on your plate.
• Leave home an hour before so that you never get late for work or meetings.
• Prioritize important work beforehand so that you are worry free.
• Do not procrastinate. It maintains stress in your life because you always
delay your jobs.

See: Extreme anxiety and its (often neglected) Physical effects!

3. When you have chances of losing something or an opportunity

You might have seen people running to board a flight, or rushing for a train about to leave. I guess you also have gone through such experience in your lifetime. The rush and the thought of losing or missing something important is very distressing and it often leads to anxiety.

This anxiety can also be felt by students who have a stress of studies. The fear or worry of failing of missing the target of getting expected grades.

The trigger of anxiety is simply losing or missing something. It can be a flight, a train, an interview, a job, an important meeting, a cafe that is about to close, etc. This kind of anxiety also manifests because of the worry of losing some future goals or a target. They can be the worries of poor performance in studies, the worry of not achieving a business target, worry of deadlines.

How does it affect you?

  • The sense of losing on something causes you to become miserable.
  • You imagine your life without that particular thing.
  • You hurriedly rush for achieving that particular thing (Eg. rushing to get an offer at a store before it expires).

HOW to cope with Mini Panic Attacks triggered by the fear of losing things?

• Change your thinking about losing or missing things because no matter how hard we try we are going to lose or miss things or opportunities.
• Be ready to lose even if you plan well for succeeding at anything. That is because you can control the process but not the final result.

See: A guide to 6 step thought record worksheet to curb your anxiety

4. When you witness fist fights and accidents

In my experience, witnessing fist fights and accidents make us intensely anxious for a short time period.
In fact, some sufferers have told me that they panicked and got depressed just by the sight of a fight. You might have experienced mini panic attacks if you witnessed fearful events. These panic attacks are really powerful. You feel a knot in the throat and a punch in the stomach. Your heart races and pounds. You feel like running away from that scene.

Same is the thing when you witness fatal accidents or mishaps on the roads or almost anywhere. Actually, you never realize that practically there is no need to be scared unless you are having an accident your self.
The fear is intense even if it lasts for a short period of time. Sometimes this fear shows up in a split second and goes away in a few seconds.Even if this fear is experienced for a short period of time it often shows long-term impact. You dread such situations more in the future and begin to avoid the situations where you feel the chances of such circumstances are there. 

You think that it has happened to somebody else but what if that happens to me. You say that there are chances of that happening to anyone anytime. This thought gives you the worst feeling ever and makes you so miserable that you keep upset for a long time. This is how impacting it is in the real sense.

How does it affect you?

  • You instantly feel a knot in the stomach and feel like running away.
  • It makes you fearful of such events. You panic often. 
  • You get depressed to some extent by watching what is happening.
  • You feel powerless and helpless.

HOW to cope with Mini Panic Attacks triggered by the sights of fearful events?

• Learn to tolerate fears when anything fearful is happening around you but not with you.
• Learn not to think much when you see disturbing things like fatal accidents.
• Do not run away from fearful situations unless they are actually problematic for you. As you learn to tolerate and expose yourself to the fears they will begin to fade.

See: 5 Ways To Avoid Debilitating Anxiety and Achieve Mental Balance

5. When you get untimely phone calls or hear loud noises

This is what happened: It was a Saturday afternoon. I was lying on the couch, relaxed and was watching a football match on TV. The room was quiet and there was nothing noisy around the apartment. Suddenly the phone rang and I didn’t notice how I panicked. It happened in a split second. Automatically. This kind of thing had happened many times with me.

Later on when I began to examine my thinking and my mindset. I realized something. Somehow I was conditioned to fear the sound of phone rings. Slowly as I thought over days I completely understood the reason for that. I had received the phone calls of death news of many of my relatives and that had been very stressful for me. I had panicked nearly four times when I received such phone calls. I developed a fear of phone calls suspecting that any of the coming phone calls could be of bad news. That made me very anxious. So actually they were mini panic attacks.

I am sure many people develop fears of many things like phone calls, loud sounds, or some internal sensation like tingling or tiredness. The reason for that is panic attacks scare the hell out of you. You are so scared of the past experiences that you develop a habit of seeing negative in everything and every circumstance. In my case that I discussed above, there was no that the phone call would be a bad news. But, I had become habitual to that kind of reaction so I panicked. Was it going to be death news phone call every time? Of course not. But the fear of phone calls made me extremely miserable with mini panic attacks every time.

How does it affect you? 

  • They shock you and heighten your anxiety for a short period of time.
  • The phone calls or sounds make you imagine worst case scenarios.
  • They often trigger full-blown panic attacks.

HOW to cope with Mini Panic Attacks because of sudden phone calls or loud noises?

• Understand that not every phone call or news or a shrill has to do anything with a bad occurrence.
• Know that bad news is bad but they are not horrible. Bad and scary things a part of life. There is no need to fear them.
• Gather courage and face these situations so that you get used to them over time and they do not scare you to that extent.

See: 3 Panic Attack tricks That Will Actually Make Your Life Better

6. When you are worried about the future events

The worry of future is a common thing for adults and it is actually helpful to some extent. You fall into the trap of worry when you get into the habit of focusing only on worries. This situation is very critical since it is also accompanied by inaction, possibly procrastination and the inability to organize your tasks that increase your tensions and worries.

The future is unpredictable and that thing sits at the core of our unconscious minds. This means that we have the tensions of future happenings or “our fate” deep-rooted in our minds and that invites these intense but mini panic attacks.

Most anxiety sufferers complain that they have mini panic attacks when they are in the anxious mode of thinking and feeling. If you have experienced the same that anxious mood slowly takes them towards panic attacks. These periods of anxiety remind you of your worst remembrances and the past mistakes and consequently, you feel like undertaking something instantly that promises good results in the future.

In my experience, the worry of future bugs our minds because we do not take the planned actions and do not execute things on time. This terrible feeling invites mini panic attacks and after feeling all that you end up getting nothing for creating a good future. You understand that you just had a period of worry that was of no use.

How does it affect you? 

  • The worry of future events makes you concerned about failures.
  • It also lowers your confidence and makes you virtually powerless.
  • You try to figure out what lies in your fortune and make it secure.
  • Such thoughts always bug your head since you want to achieve your life ambitions.

HOW to cope with Mini Panic Attacks triggered by the worry of future?

• Understand that the worry of future can be useful if you handle it the right way.
• Make sure that you work out the plans that you made to create a better future.
• When you panic because of the worry of future think of your unique qualities that you have.
• When you have panic remind yourself that you are
dedicated to your goals so they will definitely be achieved.

Final word:

There can be a variety of situations where anxiety sufferers panic and face this quick but intense anxiety. I have mentioned just a few above. Note that these situations are not very dreadful if you try to face them head-on. It can take some time and effort but eventually, with the above-mentioned steps you will learn to face mini panic attacks and cope with them effectively.


Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
                                  – Dale Carnegie

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1 comment

  1. Johny Jackson

    Best ever article on mini panic attacks. It gives very practical advice on dealing with those small panic attacks that disturb me every time when I am working or even relaxing. That fourth point you mentioned is true in my case. I panic even if there are fistfights or even quarrel in my vicinity. I am working on my habits of thinking and I hope this blog will help me a lot. Thanks.

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