Dear Dr. B,

When I get stressed, I’ve notice my heart races and I have a hard time catching my breath. What should I do?

Sincerely, Stressed and Breathless

Dear Stressed,

First, I would most certainly recommend that you make an appointment with your primary care physician to ensure that there isn’t something medically wrong that needs to be treated.

Assuming that you are medically cleared, it sounds to me like you may be experiencing the symptoms of a panic attack. A panic attack is in essence a collection of physiological symptoms which is your body’s reaction to anxiety. But panic attacks can mimic other medical conditions which is why I first suggested you see your medical doctor to rule out other medical conditions.

In the case of panic, it’s important to recognize that it will pass. It’s also helpful to know that it is impossible for you brain and your body to be relaxed and anxious at the same time. So if you will take a few really deep breaths, and concentrate on relaxing rather than focusing on the panic, it will help.

You mentioned that this tends to happen when you are stressed.  I’d encourage you to find some better ways of coping with your stress so that your brain and body don’t resort to anxiety and panic.

The Bible says to “Be anxious for nothing, but in every situation with prayer and thanksgiving, make our requests known to God” (Philippians 4:6). That’s about the best stress-reduction strategy I can offer.

Here are a couple of other tips to consider. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and regular physical exercise help mitigate stress. Focusing on the positive also helps-thanking God in the midst of our struggles helps us do that. Taking regular breaks is important.

If you need help coming up with additional coping strategies for managing the stress in your life, you may want to consider consulting with a therapist for a few sessions.

Keep in mind, most of what we worry about never comes to pass.

Your RX for Coping with Panic Attacks

Hope Prevails,
Dr. B

(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)


A short brief about Hope Prevails.

Hope Prevails
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.

Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide

  • An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
  • As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
  • Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations

Hope Prevails Book cover vertical 536

In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.

For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.

Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see:

In stressful situations, does your heart is race? Are you having a hard time catching your breath? You may be having a panic attack. Read more as Dr. Bengtson shares coping strategies for managing the stress in your life.

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