Panic Awareness Day 10 July 2022: By Dr. Guru Kistnasamy.

The tragedy of 21 children who died in the Enyobeni Tavern in East London on 26th of June 2022 still reverberates in our minds. The Enyobeni Tavern tragedy is similar to the incident at Throb in Chatsworth where 13 children died in a stampede two decades ago. They were trying to flee from tear gas that was released by an unscrupulous employee.

Panic can lead to death if untreated. 10 July is Panic Disorder Day.

Panic Disorders are episodes of intense fear that come without warning or apparent reason. It can occur anywhere and may prevent the individual from leaving home, going to work, or carrying out errands. Persons experiencing a panic attack may feel that they are having a heart attack, losing control, or dying.

The symptoms of panic disorder include a pounding or racing heart, sweating, chills, trembling, difficulty breathing, weakness or dizziness, numbness in the hands, being out of breath and chest pains.

The website of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) offers the following strategies for coping with panic:

  1. Remember that although your feelings and symptoms are frightening, they are not dangerous or harmful.
  2. Understand that what you are experiencing is only the exaggeration of your normal bodily reactions to stress.
  3. Do not fight your feelings or wish them away. The more you are willing to face them, the less intense they will become.
  4. Do not add to your panic by thinking about what “might” happen.
  5. Focus on the present. Notice what is happening to you as opposed to what you think might happen.
  6. Label your fear from zero to ten. Notice that it does not stay high for more than a few seconds.
  7. When you find yourself thinking about the fear, focus on and carry out manageable tasks such as counting backwards in threes.
  8. Notice that when you stop adding frightening thoughts to your fear, it begins to fade.
  9. When the fear comes, expect, and accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away from it.
  10. Be proud of yourself for the progress you make and think about how good you will feel when you succeed each time.

Useful resources are available at most panic disorder websites including:


South African Federation of mental Health:

National Institute of Mental Health. US:

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