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Nootropics for Panic Attacks

By Dr. Ramon Velazquez Ph.D. | |

Keep Calm and Preserve Sharp Cognition

Panic attacks can strike without cause or warning.

And panic can take over at any time — when you're at work, driving, at dinner with friends, or in the middle of the night.

They may only occur occasionally, or they may happen frequently.

While panic attacks are not life-threatening, they can certainly feel that way. Recurring panic attacks can significantly affect your quality of life.

Learn how nootropics for panic attacks can help in this guide.

Panic Attacks Explained

A panic attack is an abrupt outbreak of extreme fear that occurs when there is no real threat or cause, but the brain triggers intense physical reactions as if there were immediate danger.<1>

Panic attacks can feel terrifying. You might even think you are having a heart attack, going crazy, or dying.

People experience panic attacks differently, but there are similar symptoms which usually peak within a few minutes. And the aftermath can leave you feeling drained and fatigued.

Panic attacks can occur anytime – whether you’re in a calm mind state or are already anxious.

Because they are so startling and unpleasant, people who go through repeated panic attacks often worry about undergoing further attacks. They may change their routine or lifestyle to avoid facing another panic attack. For example, they may avoid social interactions or public speaking.

In extreme cases, some people's fear of panic attacks lead them to develop agoraphobia.

Causes of Panic Attacks

There are no definite, known causes or triggers for panic attacks, but the following factors may play a role:

  • Extreme or prolonged stress
  • Genetics
  • Sensitive temperament
  • Abnormal brain function

Initially, panic attacks may strike suddenly and without warning, but over time they can be triggered by specific circumstances.

Some research suggests the fight-or-flight response may spark panic attacks. Many of the same reactions that would occur during a truly life-threatening situation manifest during a panic attack. But experts don’t know why a panic attack occurs when there's no real or even apparent danger present.

Symptoms of Panic Attacks

Panic attacks generally include some of these common symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Obsessive compulsive (OCD) thoughts
  • Chest pain
  • Mood problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Fear of death
  • Feeling of unreality or detachment

Most panic attacks are accompanied by four or more of these symptoms, but some people experience limited-symptom panic attacks – similar to full-blown panic attacks but involving fewer than four symptoms.

Panic attack symptoms can resemble symptoms of serious health issues – like heart problems, thyroid issues, or asthma – so it's important to consult your primary care provider if you aren't sure what's behind your symptoms.

What Happens In the Brain?

Although researchers have gathered a fair amount of knowledge about the physiology of panic attacks, they have only recently begun to understand how they influence brain chemistry.

Under stress, the sympathetic nervous system of a healthy brain pumps up energy-enhancing catecholamines to prepare the body for action. After the stressor is gone, the parasympathetic nervous system releases calming neurotransmitters, stabilizing and calming the nervous system.

If the parasympathetic nervous system is unable to do its job, the brain and body will remain on high alert and may prompt the heightened arousal state of a panic attack.

Recently, researchers have pinpointed specific brain regions that become hyperactive during a panic attack. Two of these regions are the amygdala, which controls the fear response and fear conditioning, and parts of the midbrain responsible for multiple functions related to arousal, including feelings of pain.

  • Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging at University College London used fMRI mapping to locate specific brain regions which activate when a person senses imminent danger. Results showed activity in the periaqueductal gray, an area of the midbrain that provokes the body’s defensive responses, such as fleeing or freezing.<2>

According to Dean Mobbs, lead author of this study:

“When our defense mechanisms malfunction, this may result in an overexaggeration of the threat, leading to increased anxiety and, in extreme cases, panic.”

GABA and Panic Attacks

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid and an important inhibitory neurotransmitter. Essentially, GABA – like other inhibitory neurotransmitters – calms the central nervous system, in opposition to excitatory neurotransmitters that stimulate the brain.

There is considerable evidence that dysfunction in GABAA receptors and/or dysregulation of GABA concentrations in the CNS plays an important role in the pathophysiology of panic disorder.

  • Recent research has demonstrated that enhancement of endogenous GABA “exerts anxiolytic effects on experimentally induced panic.” And studies in healthy volunteers have shown that GABA enhancement leads to a significant reduction in panic symptoms.<3>

Panic Attack or Anxiety Attack?

What distinguishes a panic attack from other types of anxiety is the length and intensity of symptoms.

Physical symptoms, such as a racing pulse or abdominal cramping, often accompany bouts of anxiety. But the symptoms that occur during a panic attack are so intense they may mimic heart problems, thyroid issues, breathing disorders and other, serious medical emergencies.

The duration and intensity of symptoms can be so extreme, people who suffer from frequent panic attacks may visit the emergency rooms or doctor’s office repeatedly, certain they are experiencing a life-threatening issue.

More on nootropics for anxiety

Risk Factors

Panic attacks often begin during late teenage years or early adulthood, and statistically they affect more women than men.

Other factors that may increase the risk for developing persistent panic attacks include:

  • Major life changes
  • Family history of panic attacks
  • Extreme or prolonged stress
  • Death of a loved one or serious illness
  • A traumatic event
  • Smoking
  • Excessive caffeine intake
  • History of childhood abuse

Lower Your Risk

There's no guaranteed way to block panic attacks. However, these tips may help:

  • Regular physical activity may help protect against anxiety by stimulating the release of endorphins.
  • Joining a support group for people with panic attacks or anxiety disorders can help you connect with others.
  • Avoid caffeine, smoking, alcohol, and recreational drugs – they can trigger or aggravate panic attacks.
  • Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation may help ward off panic and anxiety.
  • Get sufficient sleep for healthy brain and nervous system function.


Talk therapy can help you understand what’s behind your panic attacks and learn how to manage them.

A good cognitive behavioral therapist can help re-create the symptoms of a panic attack in a safe environment so you can learn  that panic symptoms are not life-threatening through personal experience.

Once the sensations of panic no longer feel threatening, the attacks often begin to settle down.

10 Ways to Stop a Panic Attack

  1. Deep breathing lowers blood pressure and heart rate and increases blood oxygen, helping to calm an overly amped up brain.
  2. Mindfulness can help you get a grip by remaining in the moment and promoting awareness.
  3. Repeating a calming mantra tells your brain everything is okay using verbal language.
  4. Closing your eyes helps to block out potentially threatening visual cues.
  5. Recognizing the symptoms of a panic attack as it creeps up can help you initiate other actions to slow the flow of fear.
  6. Relaxation techniques can calm physiological stress responses, inducing psychological calm.
  7. Focusing on one object can help take your mind off extraneous triggers or surroundings.
  8. Visualize your happy place to get your mind off stressors and reset your brain.
  9. Lavender has been used for thousands of years to calm anxiety and promote restfulness.*
  10. Get moving to encourage the release of happy hormones called endorphins and pacify an agitated amygdala.

Best All-In-One Nootropics Stack for Panic Attacks: Mind Lab Pro®

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Some dietary supplements have been studied as a way to quell habitual panic attacks, and although more research is needed, current studies indicate some nootropics for panic attacks have similar mechanisms to already widely accepted remedies.

Serotonin-balancing substances are often recommended for lifting depression, but they also seem to work for quieting panic attacks. These supplements are considered generally safe and present a low risk of serious side effects.

Along with stabilizing serotonin, balancing norepinephrine levels may help  further reduce the number and severity of panic attacks.


L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea and some mushrooms, promotes relaxing alpha brain wave activity. It also raises your GABA levels in the brain, helping to soothe overly nervous neurons and pacify a jumpy limbic system.

When GABA levels are low, the nervous system can become overactive, causing nerve cells to transmit signals more loudly and frequently than they are meant to. But GABA itself cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, making direct GABA supplements inefficient for inhibiting brain signals that trigger anxiety or panic.

A GABA precursor or intermediary like L-theanine can penetrate the blood-brain barrier so it can enter your circulating blood supply and brain tissue and function successfully.

  • Research findings suggest increasing GABAergic inhibition by selective enhancement of GABAergic neurotransmission might be an effective approach for panic and anxiety.<3>

More on Mind Lab Pro® L-Theanine

N-Acetyl L Tyrosine

Along with stabilizing serotonin, balancing norepinephrine levels may help  further reduce the number and severity of panic attacks.

Tyrosine is a precursor of the catecholamines dopamine and norepinephrine. Alterations in tyrosine availability can influence the synthesis of both neurotransmitters in research animals – and probably in humans.

In lab tests, stress increases the release of these catecholamines, which can lead to depletion of their levels. L-tyrosine supplementation can protect against catecholamine depletion, helping to keep dopamine and norepinephrine levels balanced and healthy.

Since norepinephrine is linked to anxiety – or lack of – defending norepinephrine concentrations may help stem panic attack incidence. Studies assessing the efficacy of tyrosine in stressful situations indicate L-tyrosine works to improve subjective well-being and reduce the effects of extreme stress.

  • One study found that 10g of Tyrosine taken daily in a protein rich drink was able to reduce blood pressure and preserve cognitive function during a week of combat training in cadets, relative to placebo.<4>

While tyrosine does not seem to enhance catecholamine release when neurons are firing at normal rates, it does during stress-enhanced firing.

More on Mind Lab Pro® N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine

Rhodiola Rosea

One of the most popular adaptogen herbs in traditional and Ayurvedic health practices, rhodiola acts directly on the adrenal system to help control stress and anxiety.

While stress and anxiety were useful early mental tools that helped ensure human survival, the same stress response that helped us recognize and avoid real danger in the past can set off a full blown, modern day panic attack when it goes haywire.

As humans evolved, the brain learned to trigger the fight or flight fear response not only during the direct presentation of a threat but at the mere thought of a threat too – developing into psychological stress.

Numerous studies imply a moderate dose of Rhodiola can effectively counteract symptoms of fear, stress, and anxiety, protecting against psychological stress and possibly curbing panic attacks.

  • In one study, seven different assessment tools showed clinically relevant improvements regarding stress symptoms, disability, functional impairment and overall therapeutic effect in one hundred and one subjects. Improvements were observed after only 3 days of treatment, with continued improvements after one and four weeks.<5>

More on Mind Lab Pro® Rhodiola Rosea

Vitamin B6

Studies have linked low B6 and iron levels to severe panic attacks.

Low serotonin is a known contributor to panic attack incidents. B6 and iron are cofactors in the synthesis of serotonin from its precursor tryptophan.

  • One study’s results confirmed low serum concentrations of B6 were present in patients suffering from severe panic attacks who were admitted to the emergency room.<6>

Make sure you're getting enough water-soluble B6 to lessen the intensity of panick attacks - and possibly stop them from popping up in the first place.

More on Mind Lab Pro® Vitamin B6

To ensure you get enough Vitamin B6 and Iron to help with panic attacks, consider taking a high-quality natural multivitamin supplement like Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi.


Mind Lab Pro® nootropics for panic attacks help to calm jangling nerves and soothe overactive neurons for relief from a sensitive nervous system.

Mind Lab Pro® is the Universal Nootropic™ created to foster 100% Brainpower™, a peak mental state that can help you stay in control and keep your cool under stress.

  • The way out of panic attacks begins with a healthy brain and good cognitive function. Mind Lab Pro® can boost focus and lessen the effects of stress to help you keep calm and carry on when panic strikes.

Stress is a natural part of everyday life. Mind Lab Pro® improves neural pathways that help balance important hormone levels so you can handle life's ups and downs with grace and cognitive control.


  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. Panic attacks and panic disorder. Mayo Clinic. 4 May 2018.
  2. Mobbs, et al. From Threat to Fear: The neural organization of defensive fear systems in humans. J Neurosci. 2009 Sep 30; 29(39): 12236–12243. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2378-09.2009
  3. Zwanzger P, Rupprecht R. Selective GABAergic treatment for panic? Investigations in experimental panic induction and panic disorder. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2005 May; 30(3): 167–175.
  4. Deijen JB, et al. Tyrosine improves cognitive performance and reduces blood pressure in cadets after one week of a combat training course. Brain Res Bull. 1999 Jan 15;48(2):203-9.
  5. Edwards D, Heufelder A, Zimmermann A. Therapeutic effects and safety of Rhodiola rosea extract WS® 1375 in subjects with life-stress symptoms--results of an open-label study. Phytother Res. 2012 Aug;26(8):1220-5. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3712
  6. Mikawa Y, et al. Low Serum Concentrations of Vitamin B6 and Iron Are Related to Panic Attack and Hyperventilation Attack. Acta Med. Okayama. 2013. Vol. 67, No. 2, pp. 99ン104

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article is an opinion and explanation of current research given by the author. It is not an expression of a medical diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on as such.

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