Managing Anxiety and Panic Attacks

7 min read

Are you familiar with how it feels to be anxious?

That feeling of fear that courses through your body. The ominous dread and uneasiness that lingers and won’t quite leave, the racing thoughts and worst case scenarios. Perhaps for you anxiety shows up tangibly in your body; tight chest, pounding heart, weakness, dizziness or legs that won’t quite settle or still.

Maybe you are well acquainted with the feeling; perhaps panic attacks have somehow, somewhere become a regular part of your life. It may be that you have spent a late night or two Googling ‘what does the Bible say about panic attacks?’ or ‘Bible verses for panic attacks’ in a bid to reconcile your very real faith and your very real experience of anxiety.

Anxiety affects us in our body, soul and spirit.

At a physical neurobiological level, anxiety and panic attacks make a big impact. It can take only a matter of seconds before our bloodstream is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol as certain parts of our brain are triggered into firing and wiring messages via our autonomic nervous system and we are in the midst of a panic attack.

Anxiety is exhausting for our souls, overwhelming us and making us feel at the mercy of our emotions. Spiritually, anxiety and panic attacks can leave us feeling disconnected and rather alone in the universe. We may struggle to ground ourselves in the reality of the everyday, let alone in the reality of God’s delight in us and His unending love toward us.

How can we use Bible verses for panic attacks?

Have you ever wondered where God is in all of this? If He still has a plan and provision for you even when you are experiencing anxiety? Have you wondered what the Bible says about panic attacks? Can we take that ancient God breathed truth in order to apply it to our lives right here and right now?

What if there’s more? What if we are so fearfully and wonderfully made that within us, knitted into our bodies, souls and spirits are God given ways to reduce anxiety, even to prevent panic attacks by changing our physiological response to anxiety by bringing God’s shalom peace to our bodies, our souls and our spirits?

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23

There is a powerful crossover between theology and therapy, scripture and science. Many of the recent discoveries and trends in the world of mental health, neuroscience and neurobiology have at their root a deeply scriptural basis. Far from being new or contemporary ideas, they are in fact part of the ancient path walked by many people of faith and followers of Jesus over many years.

Things such as mindfulness, meditation, gratitude, shifting our perspective and renewing our minds can all be found in the written word of God – The Bible. In this way we can discover Bible verses for panic attacks. 

Photo by Aral Tasher on Unsplash.

There is something so powerful about breath

God is no stranger to dealing with darkness and chaos. Right back at the beginning in Genesis 1 we read that the earth was empty and dark, it was “a soup of nothingness” (MSG). One translation writes of there being “chaos and waste” (TLV). God did not avoid this chaos or turn His back on the darkness, instead He chose to wade right in. He chose to dwell in the midst of it all, the mess, the disorder, the chaos and waste and with it all He created something good, something very good.

We read in Genesis 1 that the Spirit, the Hebrew word is Ruach, which translates as the breath of God, hovered over this chaos and darkness and created order, not just order, but beautiful order.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was chaos and waste, darkness was on the surface of the deep, and the Ruach Elohim was hovering upon the surface of the water.” Genesis 1:1-2 (TLV)

God’s breath is powerful.
Our breath is powerful.
There is something so powerful about breath.

We see something similar when we look at the life of Jesus. He did not avoid condescending to walk amongst us in all of our messy humanity, in our chaos and our darkness. Instead, He chose to exchange His robe of majesty for brown human skin that cracked and sweated and bled. He chose to be born as a baby, vulnerable and dependent in order to dwell amongst us.

In John 20 we catch another glimpse of the Ruach of God that we first encountered in Genesis. We read of Jesus Himself using His breath to breathe life and to create goodness and godliness in order for us to experience that life giving, order creating breath in our own lives.

“And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”” John 20:22

Bible verses for panic attacks

Perhaps your feelings of anxiety are similar to this picture painted at the beginning of Scripture. You can relate to the image of nothingness, darkness or chaos as your thoughts rage and your emotions and responses can feel out of control. As you read this we invite you to remember that God does not create chaos, yet neither does He avoid it. He becomes present amidst the chaos and wades right in, walking with us and breathing His life-giving, breath-shaping order out of chaos, light out of darkness and something beautiful from nothingness. Our God was there right at the beginning of creation and He is still doing it now.

God’s breath is powerful.
Our breath is powerful.
There is something so powerful about breath.

As science is forever catching up with Scripture, the world of neuroscience recognises the power that our breath has on our bodies and on our souls too. As humans our breathing is an automatic reflex that we use without thinking about it. However, when we become mindful of our breath, we can interact with our parasympathetic nervous system, which controls our rest and relax response. We can work with our God given breath to increase the flow of air into our bodies. In turn, this can help calm our nerves, reducing stress and feelings of anxiety. Intentional focused breathing sends a message to our brain to calm down and to relax, preventing a panic attack or helping to conclude one that has already started.

God’s breath is powerful.
Our breath is powerful.
There is something so powerful about breath.

Using the Glorify App you can connect with more Bible-based breath work as well as a host of helpful content around mental health. This content provides a tool kit for those of us who follow Jesus and also experience anxiety and panic attacks. Scripture is of course another powerful tool. Although there are no specific scriptures about panic attacks, there are plenty of Bible verses that can ground us, soothe us and remind us of ancient God breathed truths and of the power of breath.

Using Bible verses to ground us

“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4
“God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!” Psalms 51:10-17 (MSG)
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nor our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT)
“The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17
“Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:22

We would also love to equip you with some breath prayers that will ground you in Scripture. They will remind you to just keep breathing your breath. Trust that God can do in your life just what He did in the beginning. He can breathe His breath and bring order, life and beauty.

Breath prayers for anxiety

Close your eyes and focus on your breath, feel your jaw and hands unclench and your shoulders begin to relax. Attempt to focus your mind and to clear it of tasks, to do lists and intrusive thoughts. If unwanted thoughts come just notice them and let them go. Ask the Holy Spirit to recentre you and to be with you in this present moment.

INHALE-God You are ever present
EXHALE-In all my times of need

INHALE-Oh God You create order and beauty
EXHALE-Even when I feel chaos and darkness

INHALE-Your breath gives life
EXHALE-Your breath gives hope

INHALE-Create a genesis week
EXHALE-Out of the chaos of my life

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