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Readers Respond: How Do You Deal with Panic Attacks with IBS Symptoms?

Responses: 13


Updated October 22, 2012

From the article: IBS and Panic Disorder
Some people find themselves dealing with the symptoms of IBS and panic disorder and attacks at the same time. The silver lining to this dark cloud is that strategies for dealing with the symptoms of one disorder are generally helpful in managing the symptoms of the other disorder. What helps you get through a panic attack with IBS symptoms? Share your tips and find out what others due to get through these uncomfortable anxiety episodes. One caveat, please don't discuss your medications, just your self-help tips!

IBS and Panic Attacks

I have had IBS for a few years now and used to suffer frequent panic attacks when going to friends' houses, out for meals etc. I find when I'm having a panic attack it helps to talk to myself in my head, as insane as it sounds. I start a conversation in my head about trivial, non stressful subjects like what I'm going to wear tomorrow and don't let myself think about feeling ill or panicky and it helps massively, hope someone finds this helpful x
—Guest Rebecca


I recently feel like I'm getting ISB!! and i need help coping with it!!! i noticed when i think about it more i have to go to the toilet which sucks! I'm even scared to go out because I'm constantly thinking when will i need the toilet?? but relaxing has helped me a lot!
—Guest _Hope

My Advice and Experience

Hi, I'm 24 years old and I've lived with IBS since I was 15 or probably longer but didn't have bad symptoms until that time. I've also experienced panic attacks since I was 13. I feel that this was a direct result of being attacked and bitten by a dog when I was 11 years old. I dealt with IBS all through high school and though it was difficult I managed ok. The biggest setback was when I was 22 years old I suffered a major panic attack that made me go to the ER thinking I was actually dying. I saw many doctors that all misdiagnosed my symptoms and tried putting me on medication. Eventually I sought help by purchasing the Midwest Center Anxiety Program which has helped me tremendously. I would recommend it to anyone. I'm now completely off of all medication and I'm not turning back!Overall, I still experience anxiety but have done more to reduce it and I now know how to deal with it and realize that it is harmless and will eventually past. Don't let anxiety or IBS take over your life!!!
—Guest Ron

Panic attack nightmare

I have been experiencing panic attacks for about 10 years now. I have been to countless doctors hoping to find a solution. I had turned to alcohol for relief but that only worked while under the influence and made matters worse the next day with the hangover. I had been prescribed valium during alcohol withdrawals and that helped keep me calm. But when the valiums ran out I was constantly worrying about having a panic attack. I developed a bit of an obsessive compulsive disorder where there were certain personal items that I had to have at hand or I would freak. I began doing things methodically, especially with cleaning the house. I still have a problem with leaving the house and going for walks because the house is my comfort zone and if Im half way around the block and have a panic attack I feel as though I'm going to run out of breath and have a heart attack before I make it back to the house. I found slow deep breaths work and talking aloud to myself to relax, I'm ok, it will pass.
—Guest Kez.M


I am 23 years old and have an IBS since I was a very young child ( before I remember ) I overcame the IBS for the most part and get minor flares here and there. I however have never struggled with panic disorder until the last 2 months. They came out of nowhere and knocked me down. I have learned that when I get one to go for a walk or exercise lightly... The doctors wanted me on medications that would alter my goofy personality and or cause worse symptoms then what I began with so I struggle through them daily. I read an article about breathing and confronting them. The VA hospital is helping me through them as they may have been brought on by my service time. If anyone has further advice please let me know. I have them severe they are so frightening.
—Guest Desiree

Don't Panic!

I've been suffering with IBS for years. I used to panic when I felt those first cramps and twinges...like I am now. I used to start pacing and hyperventilating; scrunching my body into an accordian to stop the cramps. Now I BREATHE! When I feel it coming, I rest as well as I can with two young kids. They are not allowed to climb on me when I feel like this, which helps because my stomach becomes so tender. Mainly, keeping myself calm, breathing in through my bellybutton, out thru' my nose, and techniques I've learned thru' stress management. Interestingly, if I'm on an antidepressant (as I usually am), I have less issues with IBS. So, it goes without saying that if I'm taking mental care of myself, it's easier to feel in control of myself when the pain hits...and it doesn't hit as often when I'm less stressed. I also don't panic when I know I have my antispasmodic medication handy...I panic when I'm out!!!
—Guest MissChris

ibs causes panic

i am convinced ibs causes panic attacks. i find it very difficult to deal with both and have not yet found a solution. i try to take deep breaths but sometimes i am too upset and can't seem to calm down. i find going out is the best help for me, but i do understand that not everybody can manage to go out.

ibs panic attack

I am just noticing that when I have a flare of IBS, a panic attack occurs at the same time. I take deep breaths and immediately go outdoors for some fresh air. I continue to take deep breaths to calm myself down.
—Guest deloris

Sharing my Tips

When my IBS is acting up and my stomach is not feeling well, I put a heating pad on my stomach and sometimes my lower back. The warmth has helped me tremendously; it seems to calm my stomach down quickly. I also will drink warm chamomile tea and often eat a banana.
—Guest lonewolfpal

maybe it's not a panic attack

I read somewhere about nerve endings in the intestines that made me realize that what I think is panic attack - butterflies in my stomach/fear- is most often a warning of an impending IBS episode. If there is no reason to feel nervous, I take it as warning and look for a rest room. If I have reason to be nervous, I need to decide which is it? Panic that is warranted is another story, but I am learning that not everything IS a panic attack.

Yoga and correct breathing

I have tried Yoga and joined The Art of Living, and with both of these together, one learns to handle or overcome panic, anxiety and depressive moods as correct breathing techniques really help, we don't use our lung capacity to the fullest.

Face the fear

The illness and panic attacks I think go together naturally and once you understand it you can better deal with it and accept it. As I understood the illness and got it under control I also controlled the occasional panic attacks better. I work through the "what if" scenario, if I should feel a twinge of the panic symptoms. I also mentally work through my "escape/flight" options. Actually staying in place through the panic attack has helped me in certain situations that are not too stressful for me. My option is to always leave the "flight" option open if I need it. I have also developed claustrophobia. My "must haves" are to be near an "escape/flight" exit so I can be almost invisible if I need to leave. Also read all you can on the phobias and try some of the visualizing and self help techniques. Do not hesitate to talk to your doctor; mine even brought up the question if I have depression with my IBS and recommended a therapist to me.
—Guest yellowrose

Leave Plenty of Time

I have noticed that I am more likely to have a panic attack that flares up my IBS when I am time-pressured. Therefore, I always get up early to make sure I do not feel rushed. I also say no to extra commitments so that I don't feel overwhelmed.

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