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Tuesday, September 09, 2008 jbsusie, Community Member, asks

Q: what foods should be avoided with panic attacks,panic disorder and agoraphobia?

my daughter has panic atttacks, agoraphobia and I wanted to know if there were any food that would bring on a attack someone was telling me that the same foods that cause migraines and headaches will bring on attacks I need to know if its true and what they are. thank you

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Answers (5)
Amy Hendel, Health Guide
9/ 9/08 11:42pm

I must confess that I never heard this before - maybe someone else in the community will weigh in.  The only thing that occurs to me is that panic attacks may be associated with a lower serotonin level so maybe that's a connection that is being alluded to.  so i'm stumped on foods as well.

9/10/08 12:20am

Hi Jbsusie,


I don't know if you can call caffeine a "food," but it definetly should be avoided.  Lately, I've been seeing a lot of people drink energy drinks such as "Red Bull," and not realizing that the high caffeine content is triggering their anxiety!  I always see a number of people that don't seem to realize that the coffee, tea, Iced tea, and/or soda that they drink is triggering anxiety for them! 


Over the years, I've heard a number of different antedotes about different foods, but no real consensus.  I've had clients claim that  juice (which has a high amount of suger) triggers anxiety. That makes some sense to me, because if you feel a change in your body due to consuming a large amount of sugar, the sensation alone could trigger anxiety (body sensations are one of the triggers for anxiety).  For other people, just getting overly hungry can trigger a panic attack.



I've heard some people claim that fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants are "calming" foods.  I don't know if that's really true, but we all know that these types of foods do have tremendous health benefits for us.


For me, the lesson here again seems to be to eat a healthy diet, avoid caffeine (and alcohol), high amounts of sugar,  and do not allow yourself to get overly hungry.


As far as the foods that trigger migraines, I'll let Dr. Walcutt answer that one as she is an expert in the area of headaches!




Jennifer L. Fee, Psy.D.




9/11/08 7:20pm

jbsusie - Any food that produces a sensation that resembles anxiety or panic - jitteriness, racing heart, sweating, butterflies in the stomach, chest tightness, etc. could potentially trigger an attack because people with panic disorder are often misinterpreting bodily cues and hypersensitive to the sensations associated with panic. So if a food makes your daughter feel like she's having a panic attack that may raise her anxiety to very high levels. Whether this will actually trigger an attack is hard to say but she is likely to feel very uncomfortable and scared.


Rick Wirtz

Anon, Community Member
1/21/10 10:46am

Certain foods do trigger anxiety attacks.Especially sour and spicy food.Foods with artificial flavorings like in a packet of instant noodles should be avoided too.These are a few of the foods that should be avoided.Avoid sour foods like tomatoes,pineapples,green apples,sour plums,sour candies,etc.Avoid spicy foods with lots of chillies or spices like curry,spicy sauces,stuff with lots of pepper.Try to avoid fast food.Also,use olive oil or at least sunflower oil to fry your food.Avoid caffeine,cigarettes and any other forms of stimulants.

unknown, Community Member
1/21/10 12:03pm

i know someone as same this problem as your daughter,what i see and understand this sickness can be cure by follow the healthy life style and motivation from you as mother and also family.


1st For healthy life style food tips example like eat health food,which that avoid too much sour,salt,sweet,oil,spicy and caffeine.and also avoid western food.


2nd For healthy life style tips example exercise to make feel fresh and healthy and also yoga to make her feel calm and relaxing her mind.


3rd Do something that interest her exmple like play games hang out with friend or anything that she like to do. 


4rd went to the realxing place example like at the beach watch the sea and the sun rise will make u feel relaxing.


lastly motived her,make her happy eample like make her laugh,make her always happy days for her and also pray to the god.




























Vonnie, Community Member
6/21/10 6:43am



I had panic attacks from the age of 11 to 34 - my life was a disaster.  I went for CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) when I was 34 and within 3 months - they had gone (apart from the motorway ones - still have them) but now I am building my life - I have two businesses (mainly because in the last 10 years I had to work from home due to agrophobia).  I feel like I have been re-born but with my experience of life, I am taking 10 steps forward each time I make a move on something positive.


So that's 7 years ago now - I am in a stable relationship - I have a business outside the home now and I am dealing with everyday life. 


Thank goodness for that - except last night I woke up at 1 a.m. and couldn't breathe - I didn't go into panic as the CBT taught me that I would be alive, even though I felt I was dying.  I opened the windows and felt the fresh air - made myself breathe (which is what I had done from age 11 - 34).  Hey - someone should buy me a portable ventilator for my Birthday as that's what i should've been on most of my life!!


I tried to work out what was happening while making myself breathe at regular (non-panicky) intervals.  I felt detached again - out of my body - dizzy - all the usual symptoms without the usual panic thoughts.


This is so strange after readingt this forum - but when I went through to the living room - I realised I was working late last night on my laptop and I ate Jelly Babies, a milky way, liqorice allsorts - very unusual for me to eat so much rubbish at once - so it looks like that is the problem and could've always been the problem!!


What a waste of my younger years - please don't let it happen to you - I can't believe that after all this time - not one doctor had mentioned that sugar would trigger these effects.


Today - I'm happy that finally I know what triggers my panic attacks - wish it had been a lot sooner.  The CBT treatment would have given my self-esteem as massive boost and I would not have been eating so much rubbishy sweeties but last night - I felt I needed to eat them so I did - never again!!


Hope this helps someone.


Best wishes,









Misty, Community Member
9/ 7/11 6:22pm

I'm a cookie freak. I suffred from painic attacks since my early twenties and now in my early 40's. I know that too much sweets triggers my attacks but i forgot since it was a while since I had an attack. However, when I got the attacks it was daily after I ate 12 cookies (Ginger Snaps). I will not touch another sweet item. The only sugar I will get is through the ingredients in regualr foods. Also, I will not drink juices that are sugary. I appreciate this forum because I was suffering since last week with these attacks was too challenging but I hang in their with prayer and research.




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By jbsusie, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/15/12, First Published: 09/09/08