anxiety attacks


I have to hand my in my thesis in a mere 6 weeks (deep breaths now), and I am, quite frankly, freaking the hell out. I've got an entire results chapter to write, another one to finish, two more that need major corrections after my supervisors ripped them to shreds and the discussion to write. The only thing in the bag is the introduction. From this angle, facing the prospect of another long and daunting evening of work before dragging myself into my part-time job tomorrow, bleary-eyed and irritable, it all seems rather hopeless. I am normally a pretty stable person (at least, I like to think so), but I think I had an actual bona fide panic attack at about 3.30 this morning. Think sitting bolt upright in bed and hyper-ventilating for about 5 minutes, pretty scary. I've calmed down today and told myself that my thesis doesn't define me, that it'll be submitted in a few more weeks and I can start getting my life on track etc. etc. and am feeling a bit more positive, but am quite rattled by the experience. The reason for this post is therefore twofold: 1) I want to reassure anyone else nearing the end that a little bit of mental anguish is par for the course, and that it does pass, and 2) I shamelessly just want some cyber-PhD-folk to tell me that everything is going to be ok, and to hear your suggestions for talking yourselves off of the ceiling when the going gets tough (or, in my case, when the going gets overtly mathematical!).

Avatar for Eska

Hey Slack Jack, You WILL get through this and you WILL complete.

Although I'm no where near your stage, I have dealt with work induced panic and anxiety. Generally, I find, you just have to let it pass and keep going, find your own centre emotionally and just KNOW you will do it, and that life is looking after you and making the right things happen. Panic is another word for fear, so if you can take the edge of that and just TRUST I find that goes a long way.

But I'm sure you are doing fine - Oh! and I also find letting it out like you just did on here takes the edge of the fear and pressure. Plate smashing works well too - if you have some you use sometimes but don't really like - then smashing them can be immensley satisfying and great for letting go of pressure. Just don't get pissed until after you've handed in!!!!

GOOD LUCK AND YOU WIIIIIIIILLLL DO IT and you'll be looking as cool as this icon in a few weeks time! 8-)

Avatar for Eska

Oh sorry! I mean, you'll be looking as cool as this icon after six weeks' time. 8-)


I used to get panic attacks quite a bit. The main things that help me are making sure my blood sugar is fairly stable (so, no delaying food then eating a load of sweets), keeping hydrated, and getting lots of exercise. I do get the waking-up-in-a-panic thing still, but if it passed after five minutes it sounds like you have the breathing down pretty well. I try to breathe in for 5 and out for 7, but I am rubbish at it! Mint flavours make me feel calmer, so I brush my teeth or chew gum if I feel panicky, and hot ginger tea is also really good (my panic attacks often used to make me sick in public, so ginger is awesome for stopping the nausea).

I handed in before Christmas, and my stress manifested itself in me catching flu and being in bed for a week at six weeks before hand in! After that I forced myself to ease off a bit, because I really didn't have time to get ill again.


I got a great piece of advice from someone who had submitted and done and dusted it all. She said, 'remember it doesn't have to be perfect' It just has to show a new contribution of knowledge. Your Viva discussion can completely change it all for you. Just remember that when u hand it in you will be free!!! And do the best you can. That is all anyone can ask of you. Dont panic you are in complete control of this. 6 weeks is fine for time. I promise!



i think what's freaking you out is the fact that you are looking at the whole thing- chapters, corrections etc. Break it down, do it section by section. Don't look at the thesis as a whole as it will just make you feel worse. And speaking from experience, panic attacks subside, you never stay in the same state. So don't worry it'll all get done x


Thanks everyone, this has been really helpful. It's so lovely to hear that other people have experienced the same thing, it makes me much less alone. The advice about diet is probably bang on; I've found that my appetite has completely disappeared so I tend to not eat for long periods of time then have a great big meal when I remember! Oops. I'm definitely going to try to look after myself more. On the thesis side, I'm going to nail the results chapter that I've been dragging my heels on this weekend, and crack straight on with the next one. It 'doesn't have to be perfect', is quite right. It just needs to be 'done'!
Thanks again everyone!


Hi everyone! sorry to kind of hijack the thread here, but does anyone have any advice for the current mid-phd partners of final year phders?! mr algaequeen is writing up, due to hand in soon altho he's pushed the date back a bit so it's going to take longer than i thought....and i've literally been counting down the weeks. I know its mighty stressful for him and im trying to be v understanding etc but we are long distance and its really taking its toll on the relationship! I'm already pretty stressed myself with my own work but ive had a cold since christmas and every time im annoyed about something with the mr it manifests itself in some other body malfunction - currrently i have my first ever coldsore, a stye on my eye, an infection and a cold....


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I've also been having anxiety attacks. It usually happens when I'm trying to go to sleep at night. I've been looking for a natural solution and so far have found an article covering home remedies for anxiety attacks: . I've been trying a couple of the techniques and am noticing a difference. I hope this is helpful for you!


What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps one deal with tense situations in the office, study harder for an exam, keep focused on an important speech. In general, it helps one cope. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling anxiety disorder.


SlackJack, I guess you're not alone.. I've never really had anxiety attacks but I can feel it building up inside me as I'm going through my 1st year. My supervisor is great - that helps a lot. Not much pressure for him and he lets me do my own work. BUT, that can be bad sometimes - I tend to become over self-motivated.

Maybe valium pills can help????? =(