Panic attack at work in front of boss (Tips)

In this guide, we will discuss “panic attack at work in front of boss”, consider if you should be honest and tell your boss about your mental health and some tips that may help you cope when experiencing this type of situation.

Panic attack at work in front of boss

A panic attack at work in front of your boss can become a reason for feeling ashamed or embarrassed, especially if you have started a new job and you are terrified about the idea of how your boss may react to this situation.

Panic attacks are awful and come with a lot of discomforts and a feeling of vulnerability by feeling unsafe, exposed, judged, criticized, labeled or even undermined.

However, it doesn’t have to be a horrible experience to have a panic attack when you are in your workplace or office, especially in front of your boss and if it is the first time.

Not knowing how they will take it or how they will react after it can make you even more anxious and stressed, but there is no need to feel like an alien since anxiety disorders in the workplace are more common than you think. 

In addition, always remember that having an anxiety disorder does not necessarily mean you will be a bad employee.

Panic attacks are characterized by intense fear and overwhelming anxiety that manifests through symptoms such as shortness of breath,  chest pain, heart palpitations, sweating, shaking/trembling, lightheadedness, among others, that can make you feel as if you are having a heart attack, you are dying or going crazy.

However, if you start experiencing frequent panic attacks at work it is recommended to seek help or advice from a mental health professional. 

Many people who suffer from anxiety disorders know that stress can make their anxiety spike or get worse, but they do not necessarily mean how to cope with it or prevent it.

Someone working at customer service roles having customers yell at them all day or having your boss yelling at you most of the time can make your anxiety get worse by the minute increasing the chance of a panic attack. 

Consequently, the workplace can be perceived as an inevitable source of stress and it is not surprising you may experience panic attacks there, but we can actually apply some techniques or tips when having a panic attack at work. 

Find your safe place

One of the most important things you can do is finding a place (preferably a quiet one) where you can actually feel safe, where you can take a few minutes to breathe, vent and calm down.

However, this safe place needs to make you feel very comfortable, where you can sit for a while and even cry if you need to.

This place can be the bathroom, a quiet and empty office or if you prefer it can also be anywhere you can contact a friend or someone you feel comfortable talking with about what is happening. 

However, having a static “safe place” can be challenging especially when panic attacks can happen suddenly and without warning. 

Remember to breathe

When you have located your safe place, you can start monitoring your breathing rate since it is going to be elevated when you are having a panic attack.

Remember to start breathing slowly through your nose, count until four or five and then release the air through your mouth again counting until four or five.

This will help you control your breathing rate, heart rate, and muscle tension, regulating the hyperactivation in your entire body and get you into a relaxed and calm state. 

As an employee, if you feel comfortable and have certain trust towards your boss, manager or supervisor, let them know you need to do this to collect yourself and get back to your job duties.

Employers are aware of how employees whose anxiety is not properly addressed lead to lost workdays, decrements in their productivity, among other consequences that are not good for the business. 

Identify what triggers your anxiety

On many occasions, we endure panic attacks without even knowing what causes them in the first place and for some people, they may come without a rational explanation.

However, try to document when you have a panic attack, what happens before and after the episode since it can be valuable information when finding a pattern about the potential triggers of your anxiety. 

Subsequently, being aware of what triggers them can actually help you cope with them and even set up a plan where you can learn to prevent them. 

Recognize the symptoms

It is not a secret that the symptoms experienced when having a panic attack can be felt with such intensity and discomfort, causing a lot of fear.

Feeling like choaking, suffocating or even having a heart attack can be terrifying.

However, recognizing and understanding the physical symptoms can help you anticipate the panic attack and do something before it happens, letting you manage it more effectively next time. 


There are many self-help tools online in order to try to practice to build up effective coping strategies.

For instance, practicing meditation, muscle relaxation or dedicating a few minutes of your day to try different breathing exercises can make you feel better, cope with your anxiety when having a panic attack, and even feel much more in control when you start practicing and incorporating those techniques into your daily life.

In addition, there are plenty of self-help books and videos you can relate to when looking for help to manage panic attacks.

However, remember that if it becomes too overwhelming or you even start feeling depressed then it is recommended to find professional mental health advise to improve your mental health and your quality of life.

Should I be honest and talk to my boss about my anxiety?

Your mental health is something you may want to keep to yourself, especially when people tend to look at you as an alien or wouldn’t even try to understand what you feel because it seems it is “all in your head”.

This in term means you are not obligated to tell your boss you have anxiety or depression or any other mental illness but in some cases, it can actually benefit you.

If you have enough confidence in your boss and have a good professional relationship, then it could be helpful to let him/her know about your anxiety in case anything comes up and you have a panic attack (that can actually come as a surprise to most people).

It can also help you to feel more comfortable, supported and safer at your workplace where you could be spending the most time of your day. 

Mental health is a matter of respect not being different or “special” and in many workplaces, it is even a huge deal, where there are many programs and benefits for employees that suffer from mental illnesses. 

Why is this blog about panic attack at work in front of boss important?

This blog about having a panic attack at work in front of your boss is important because it helps you understand that it is more common than you think, meaning many people struggle to cope with anxiety every day at their workplace. 

As discussed, if you happen to have a panic attack in front of your boss there is no reason to feel ashamed or different.

Just attempt to have a conversation explaining your situation and how your employer can be of assistance to help you cope or prevent another panic attack since feeling safe and comfortable is their responsibility after all.

Please feel free to comment in the comments section!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about panic attack at work in front of boss

Can you get fired for having a panic attack at work?

Your employer shouldn’t fire you just because you are having a panic attack at work.

However, the fear of getting fired makes your anxiety worse and panic attacks more likely to happen.

Your employer should be involved in how comfortable and safe you get to feel in your workplace, and they could even help by making the necessary adjustments such as making changes to your workplace or even moving you from one role to another.

What do I do if I have a panic attack at work?

If you have a panic attack at work, you can:

– Focus on your breathing and acknowledging the physical symptoms instead of trying to avoid them. 

– Try not to leave your workspace but if necessary, have a designated “safe place” close to it.

– Write down how you feel before and after the panic attack since it can help you identify triggers and handle the situation differently next time.

– If you feel comfortable enough, attempt to talk to your boss about it.

– If it gets too overwhelming, consider getting professional help.

How do panic attacks work?

Panic attacks are the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and can include physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, chest pain, increased breathing rate, sweating, trembling, fear of losing control or going crazy (

Should I tell my boss I have anxiety?

Deciding on whether to tell your boss you have anxiety depends entirely on you.

If you have a good relationship with your boss it can actually help you strengthen the relationship and understanding about any problems that may arise due to your anxiety.

However,  you are not obligated to let your boss know you have anxiety, especially because you may not feel comfortable with labels or stigmas associated to it.

Why does my job give me anxiety?

There could be many potential reasons why your job gives you anxiety.

Some of them may include having tight deadlines, trying to balance your personal life with your work load, dealing with a negative work environment, meeting your manager or supervisor’s expectations, extended shifts or having too many overtime hours, among others. 


Hanon, N. (2018, Apr.) How My Boss Responded When I had a Panic Attack at Work. 

Hale, J. (2018, Feb.) What To Do If You Have A Panic Attack At work, According To Experts. Retrieved from

Star, K. (2019, Sept.) Managing your panic disorder at work. Retrieved from

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