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Top 7 Tips for Living with Panic Disorder

Learn How to Manage Panic and Anxiety


Updated January 30, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Panic disorder can affect your life in many ways, including your personal and professional relationships, your self-esteem and your overall quality of life. If you have been diagnosed with panic disorder, you may feel that others can’t understand what you are experiencing. You may even be keeping the panic secret, out of fear of how others would perceive you if they knew about your condition.

In truth, living with panic disorder can be difficult at times. However, it is possible to cope with panic disorder and live the life you desire. The following are seven tips to living with panic disorder, panic attacks and agoraphobia.

1. Improve Your Self-Esteem

Self-esteem refers to the way in which we perceive ourselves. People with high self-esteem have beliefs about themselves that encompass a sense of love, respect and acceptance. Those with a healthy sense of self-worth often report feeling happier and more fulfilled. People with low self-esteem, on the other hand, do not view themselves as worthwhile and often lack personal satisfaction. They are also more prone to mental health and medical illnesses, such as depression and headaches.

People with anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, are often more susceptible to experiencing poor self-esteem. There are many factors that can be contributing to this issue. For instance, many people who experience frequent panic attacks feel shame and embarrassment over their symptoms. People who have panic disorder and agoraphobia often struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can also impact self-esteem.

If you have been diagnosed with a panic disorder, you may also have been affected by low self-esteem. However, research has indicated that by building your self-esteem, you will be better able to manage your condition. There are numerous ways to improve your self-esteem while living with panic disorder.

2. Practice Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a concept that often stirs up strong emotional reactions. Many people feel that by forgiving someone who has been hurtful, they are condoning bad behaviors. It is not uncommon to feel so much hurt and anger that you believe that the other person does not deserve your forgiveness. However, forgiveness can actually be beneficial to your personal well-being. It can allow you to let go of many of the emotions that may be contributing to your anxiety. Ultimately, forgiveness can set you free from the pain caused by the other person.

3. Reach Your Goals

Many people have numerous goals they hope to accomplish. These goals are often spread across a variety of areas, including career, health and relationships. However, for those who have panic disorder, it may at times feel as though the struggle with symptoms and anxiety get in the way of achieving those goals.

Procrastination is another common issue for people with panic disorder. It often stems from fear, low self-esteem, worry, perfectionism and feeling overwhelmed. Procrastination can increase anxiety and derail a person from reaching his or her personal goals and achievements. However, despite any potential issues with panic, anxiety and procrastination, you can still reach for and achieve what you desire. Learn how to get past procrastination and accomplish your goals while living with panic disorder.

4. Overcome Negative Thinking

Negative thinking patterns, known as cognitive distortions, are a common issue for people with anxiety and mood disorders. According to theories of cognitive therapy, the way you think impacts the way you act and view the world. Basically, you are what you think you are. Constantly thinking negatively about yourself and your life can contribute to feelings of fear, loneliness and hopelessness. By thinking more positively, you may be able to better recognize your strengths and appreciate the fulfilling aspects of your life.

5. Take Care of Yourself

Our hectic and busy lives can often make us feel out of balance. However, by setting aside some time for your own personal needs, you may find that you are able to feel more personal stability. Self-care involves the activities you engage in to achieve a more balanced life. These strategies often involve the various parts that make up your well-being as a whole, such as the relational, physical and spiritual aspects of your life. Self-care can contribute to your overall health and wellness, and can be an essential part of living with panic disorder.

6. Improve Your Sleep Habits

Anxiety and sleep issues often go hand-in-hand. People with anxiety disorders frequently find it difficult to fall asleep at night. People with panic and anxiety commonly report that even when they are able to fall asleep, they find it challenging to stay asleep throughout the night. If you are having a hard time getting the sleep you need, you may need to work on ways to improve your sleep hygiene and get a better night’s rest.

7. Reduce Your Stress

Having a lot of stress in your life may be contributing to your feelings of worry and anxiety. Relaxation techniques often are an effective and easy way to help you deal with stress. These strategies work to help you manage your fight-or-flight response by improving your ability to relax. Learning relaxation techniques may help you in coping and living with panic disorder.


Bourne, E. J. "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, 5th ed." 2011 Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Carney, C. & Manber, R. “Quiet Your Mind and Get to Sleep: Solutions to Insomnia, for Those with Depression, Anxiety, or Chronic Pain” 2009 Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Enright, R. D. “Forgiveness is a Choice: A Step-By-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. 10th ed.” 2009 Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Schiraldi, G. R. “The Self-Esteem Workbook” 2001 Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

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