By Stephanie Elliot

Panic attacks can be scary. You may feel all sorts of things during a panic attack. They can come about in a variety of situations and you may feel like your blood has gone cold while you’re sweating profusely. You may shake or feel a shortness of breath. You may think the feelings will never pass, but they will. We asked some real teens who have experienced panic attacks to share with us what it’s like to have a panic attack and how to calm themselves during one.

“For me, it feels like my vision is laggy and I feel a sinking sensation in my chest. My legs feels like they are tied down with weights,” says, Lauren, who is 17.“It pretty much feels like your body is breaking down.” Lauren says she will focus on taking slow, giant breaths in and out when she feels an attack, and she reminds herself that that panic will end and to take it one moment at a time.

Mia, who is 16, says that she will zone out, and that’s a sign that something is off. She isn’t able to focus on anything around her, and she’ll shake and feel like crying. To calm down, she needs to be alone and she has to remember to breathe. “I listen to music and lay in a dark room all alone until I calm down.” Like Lauren, Mia agrees that focusing on breathing is important to do during a panic attack.

Katie, 17, says, “It feels like the world around me is trying to suffocate me. I usually start hyperventilating and can’t breathe.” When Katie is experiencing a panic attack, she listens to her favorite songs or something calming. She’ll also focus on her surroundings in order to ground herself.

Panic attacks can be scary and they usually come about without any warning. Like these teens described, if you’re experiencing something that feels like a panic attack, focus on your breath and your surroundings. Remind yourself that you are safe, and that the feelings will pass. Try to tap into your senses, focus on what you can smell, what you can see, what you can touch – this is called ‘grounding’ and can be very helpful during a panicky moment. Keep breathing slowly and steadily, remember to relax and remind yourself that the panic will eventually subside.