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A UK-wide study of 3,000 adults has revealed a detailed picture of how we deal with, perceive and hope to combat panic attacks at work. The study revealed how gender, age and location can impact how a panic attack sufferer is perceived and treated.

 

It also found that 33% of employees in Liverpool received no support at all from their employers, 22% greater than the national average.

 

Key findings of the research, conducted by a team coordinated by panic specialist Dr. Michael Sinclair, director of bcalm:

 

Panic attacks and work

  • More than a quarter (27%) of panic attack sufferers say they get no support from their employer, 1 in 10 say their employer could do more to support them.
  • Just 8% say their employers are very supportive
  • Panic attack sufferers in the north get more support from their employer, although employers in Liverpool are rated as least supportive.
  • Belfast employers are most supportive of panic attack sufferers
  • 4 in 10 women say a ‘safe space’ at work would help them cope with their condition
  • Aberdeen – a city with a high concentration of offshore oil workers – is the worst city in UK for panic inducing commutes
  • Air quality could be key to reducing workplace panic attacks

 

Worst cities for commuting to work

 

City % who’ve had panic attack on way to work
Aberdeen 55
Bristol 53
Belfast 53
Newcastle 52
London 51

 

Regional differences in panic attack support.

People working in the north generally feel more supported in their condition than those working in the south.

 

Cities with most supportive employers

 

Most supportive employers % who said employer very supportive
Belfast 21
Aberdeen 18
Manchester 13
Plymouth 13
Leeds 12

 

Cities with least supportive employers

 

Least supportive employers % who said they get no support from their employer
Liverpool 33
Brighton 31
Southampton 30.5
Cambridge 30.3
Wolverhampton 29

 

Gender and age impact

  • Men more likely to suffer weekly panic attacks
  • Men more likely to tell strangers about their condition than women
  • Women less likely to feel taken seriously after disclosing condition
  • Women more likely to be told panic attacks aren’t serious
  • Panic attack sufferers aged over 45 least likely to feel well supported by their employer and are far less likely to feel supported at work than 18-24 year olds.

 

Panic attacks at work – support and help

 

Women and men generally feel equally supported by their employers when it comes to their panic disorder. Although more than a quarter of all feel that their employer offers no support.

 

Does your employer offer any support for panic attack sufferers?
Female Male
Yes, they are very supportive 10.41% 10.20%
   
Yes, but they could do more to be supportive 8.79% 8.73%
   
No, they offer no support 27.98% 26.18%
   
I don’t know 52.82% 54.90%
   

 

Does your employer offer any support for panic attack sufferers?
18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
Yes, they are very supportive 15.17% 12.48% 10.15% 8.35% 7.84%
         
Yes, but they could do more to be supportive 8.97% 11.03% 9.21% 6% 8.11%
         
No, they offer no support 22.76% 21.52% 27.26% 31.48% 31.35%
         
I don’t know 53.10% 54.97% 53.38% 54.18% 52.70%
         

 

Women are more likely than men overall to have ideas of how their employers can help them. They are six percentage points more likely than men to believe a safe space at work could help.

 

Which of the following do you think your employer could do better to support panic attack sufferers?
Female Male
Provide a ‘safe space’ environment for respite 37.63% 32.25%
   
Adjust layout of workspace 13.18% 12.35%
   
Improve ambient conditions (airflow, ventilation, fresh air) 28.56% 24.22%
   
Reduce loud noises 11.75% 10.78%
   
None of the above / N/A 41.74% 48.53%
   

 

Panic disorder disclosure

 

Despite suffering panic attacks less frequently than women, men are more likely to openly disclose their condition outside of family and friends. Men are also more likely to hide their condition, while women are more likely overall to disclose their condition, but are more selective about to whom and under what circumstances.

 

Would you say you are comfortable telling people about your panic attacks? (1,552 panic attack sufferers )
Female Male
Yes, I’m comfortable, I tell everyone 8.90% 12.36%
   
Yes, I’m comfortable but I only tell close friends and family 35.61% 31.38%
   
No , I’m not comfortable, but I disclose when appropriate or relevant 33.22% 31.70%
   
No, I’m not comfortable, and I don’t tell anyone 22.26% 24.56%
   

 

Overall, woman are more likely to suffer from panic attacks, with 59% reporting that they’ve suffered panic attacks compared to 44% of men. But men are marginally more likely to suffer from panic attacks on a weekly basis.

 

Almost a quarter of women (24%)  suffer infrequent panic attacks (fewer than once per year) compared to 16% of men.

 

How often do you usually suffer from panic attacks? (3,000 respondents)
Female Male
At least once a week 3.61% 3.73%
   
At least once a month 10.05% 7.88%
   
At least once a year 9.53% 5.94%
   
I suffer them infrequently 23.89% 16.24%
   
I’ve had one panic attack 12.23% 9.81%
   
I’ve never suffered a panic attack 40.70% 56.39%
   

 

Perceptions of panic disorder

 

Women are more likely than men to experience mistrust over their condition, with 14% suspecting people don’t believe they suffer from panic attacks, compared to 11% of men. They are also more likely to be told panic disorder is not a serious condition.

 

In relation to panic attacks, which of the following have you ever experienced?
Female Male
People have said they don’t believe I have panic attacks 5.15% 5.04%
   
I’ve suspected that people don’t believe I have panic attacks 14.17% 11.06%
   
People have said they don’t think panic attacks is a serious condition 17.39% 12.79%
   
I’ve suspected people of faking or exaggerating panic attacks 15.26% 13.89%
   
None of the above 61.24% 65.72%
   

 

Dr Michael Sinclair, director of bcalm, believes focusing on the environment can help panic attack sufferers overcome their condition.

 

“Almost 3 in 10 women and 1 in 4 men said that improving airflow at their place of work would help with their panic attacks. This is consistent with two separate, double blind medical studies in two different countries, done by two different investigators which have demonstrated that carbon dioxide pollution filters do help reduce panic attacks.

 

“So many offices have windows that don’t open. In such cases, you’ll need a high power, expensive ventilation system to compensate and many businesses can’t afford this. Employers should encourage their people to get out and about. Even a short break outside can help. Fresh air is so important for physical and mental health.”


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