What a Panic Attack 'Comedown' Feels Like


It’s 8 p.m. and I’m just coming down from a panic attack. My body has finally stopped shaking enough for me to get downstairs.

Sometimes, my panic episodes only last for a short while; other times, they can go on for hours, panic attack after panic attack. Tonight’s “moment” was 45 minutes.

While 45 minutes might not sound like a huge amount of time, it is when your whole body is violently shaking, you feel like the food you just ate may make a reappearance any minute, you’re burning up and freezing cold all at the same time, your heart is thumping, your chest feels like its bearing the weight of baby elephant and all the while your brain is talking at you at a million miles an hour. That’s just some of the symptoms I experience during these times.

What is just as unpleasant is the panic attack “comedown.” The aftermath. The moment of time when the panic has gone, but you are still recovering.

 Firstly, I am utterly exhausted. Not just tired and could use a nap, but completely wiped out.

You remember having to go swimming in your pajamas as a kid? And how heavy you felt getting out the pool in your soggy gear? That’s how I feel now. My limbs feel heavy.

My back and stomach are burning from being so tense for so long. My whole body hurts and aches. I have a lump in my throat I just can’t shift. My stomach feels like I’ve drunk too many liquids and then jumped up and down.

I’m cold, and I’m still not quite “with it.” My brain feels tired from all the constant chatter it’s been filling my head with. I can’t even begin to describe to you what happens to my thoughts when I’m in a moment of panic. It’s like having seven people try and tell you a different story at the same time. Only with lots of questions. Over and over again. Constantly.

Afterward, it’s like my brain needs some time to rest. It becomes hard to focus on things. It’s a miracle I’ve managed to write this much. I’ve looked at the clock three times, and I still don’t know what time it is.

But as I sit here, curled up in a blanket with a hot water bottle, I can feel both my body and my mind relaxing.

I’m OK. It’s over. Just rest.

It’s going to be OK.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Giulio Fornasar


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Anxiety

A dog sitting

Why Managing Anxiety Is Just Like Training a Dog

For all who know me, you know I have a 2-year-old German Shepherd who I love with all my heart. His name is Ronin, and I literally couldn’t imagine my life without him. He’s fun, hyper, smart and an absolutely cuddle bug. Sure, he’s sometimes a little pushy with his love, but I’d rather take [...]
storm and lightning over fields

How Anxiety Feels to Those Experiencing It

It’s like being stuck on a fairground ride and not being able to get off. The panic rises slowly from the bottom of my stomach, up towards my head. It’s thick and sticky – like syrup – and as it rises, so does my level of panic. My heart begins to beat faster and my [...]
closeup of young business woman with head on window and reflection unhappy

My First Day at My New Job While Battling Anxiety

My anxiety started days before it was even “supposed” to — not being able to sleep, waking up feeling sick, constantly feeling on edge and that feeling of dread we all know too well. On the morning of the big day, my alarm hadn’t even gone off yet and I was wide awake. A sudden [...]
young woman sitting on bed holding a cup of coffee

Just Today: How to Get Through an Anxious Morning

Just today: I will show up early. I will learn something. I will teach something. I will make someone smile. I will be completely underwater and not be overwhelmed. I will enjoy friendship. I will love others. I will not exile myself. I will not exile myself if (when) I make a mistake. I will [...]