Panic Attack at Mass last Sunday


I sit in the front row with the other RCIA candidates & catechumens because we get dismissed before the Eucharist. The 1st two rows are reserved for us. I don’t feel real comfortable about that. Well last Sunday I got really, really lightheaded and almost fainted but I got up and went to the back and sat where the ushers are. The ushers saw I was in distress and called an ambulance. I had been hyperventilating. The EMTs checked my vitals and then left. Kinda embarrassing but I did go to RCIA class. Ugh. This is why I have reservations about being confirmed at the Easter Vigil in a full Cathedral downtown… :cry:


Speak with your pastor. It seems like you would have a pretty legitimate case for the confirmation being done in a more intimate setting.



I have prayed for deliverance from this anxiety disorder but my faith needs to be stronger :disappointed:



I am not comfortable in the front row. I like my “regular spot” in the middle row of the section to the right of the sanctuary. And I would rather not be dismissed before the liturgy of the Eucharist even though I haven’t made my first Communion yet. I very much believe GOD has called me to serve Him in the Catholic Church but it seems like the enemy of my soul is trying to fight me. :cry:


That’s great. Are you seeing someone about your anxiety disorder? Prayer is a wonderful way to help with these things, but we must attack them from all fronts. We are body, mind, and soul, and so we need to care for the body and mind in addition to the spirit. There’s no shame in seeking out proper medical and psychological care for something this intense.


This isn’t very helpful to someone who’s struggling with something as intense as an anxiety disorder. It isn’t just a matter of “buck up and face the music,” and it’s not as simple as “you have to overcome this.”


Thank you very much, Father. As an anxiety sufferer myself, I could not agree more.

OP, talk to your pastor and be honest about your struggles. He will help you.


I didn’t know if churches could do that or not. That’s the same reason my husband and I were married in a courthouse ( years later convalidated in the Church ) instead of having a church wedding.


Even a marriage could be done in a more private setting. Obviously, marriage is a public act (which, in canonical terms, means that there’s a record of it), but the minimum number of people to celebrate a marriage under most ordinary circumstances is five–the minister, the couple, and two witnesses. So a confirmation could still be celebrated by the minister, the confirmand, and one witness (i.e. the sponsor) apart from the usual circumstances where it is done en masse. This is an area where the pastor and the bishop can use their discretion to make accommodations. As I’ve said on other threads, pastoral praxis, particularly vis-a-vis the offering of the sacraments, is a bit like the English language. There are a few dozen rules, and a few thousand exceptions. This is especially true when extenuating circumstances exist because of health issues.


It’s not that bad. What’s the worst they could be thinking:That they’re happy for you? When they get in their car after Mass, they probably won’t even be thinking about you


When we had our marriage convalidated we had us,the priest, two cousins of mine to stand up for us, and maybe 5 or 7 friends and family as guests. If I knew I could’ve had a wedding like that,I probably would’ve done so. Now our daughter is planning a church wedding with 110 people. Not too big, not too small.




Honestly, tell them you won’t be sitting up front anymore. This is not required by anyone except an overzealous RCIA leader.

Mass should not be torture.


Anxiety isn’t necessarily caused by being concerned about what others think of you.


Hon, having an illness or disorder doesn’t mean your faith isn’t strong. Don’t let anyone (especially yourself!) try to put that kind of guilt trip on you.


I’ll be praying for you. I too suffer from panic attacks.


Hi Frank, not sure when they updated this list the last time but perhaps Eucharistic Adoration may be a good devotion for you to build faith.

I suffer from anxiety too ( untreated buy any prescription ). Several times a week I go to one of my local Perpetual Adoration chapels. Works well in my case.

Worth a try.


Speak to your priest. I too have this issue, though it used to be much worse. I did my baptism/confirmation at the Easter Vigil but I wish I had inquired about other options so I had a better memory of being received into the Church. I’m not sure of what rules must be followed but if you are only receiving confirmation I have seen this many times at regular Sunday masses and even once at a daily mass. You deserve to enjoy that moment.

As far as mass goes you should not be forced to sit in a particular spot. Find a place where you are comfortable. For me that was on the outskirts of the church, more to the back, close to the end of a pew - so that way if I felt I needed to leave I could do so discretely. You may be different, that’s ok, just find what works.

Another suggestion is daily mass or Eucharistic Adoration if you can. I’m not sure why but I do think this helped me become a lot more comfortable with the mass. Admittedly, there was a time I would go to daily mass/adoration several times a week but not always Sunday mass - of course I won’t suggest missing Sunday mass to you since we know we should attend then, but I also won’t lie about what I did or that I noticed improvement. It’s a more intimate setting - less people, less noise, less distractions. In my opinion, it’s a much easier way to acclimate. Just, like I said, please keep attending on Sundays, especially once becoming Catholic. :slight_smile:

As already suggested, seeing a therapist to work through this with is also a good idea. I tried about 3 and am sad to say none of them were very open to Catholicism (one even tried to talk me into becoming Southern Baptist repeatedly…) but even speaking generically with them about what I felt/what happened helped me with ideas to try to make me more comfortable. If you live in a more heavily populated Catholic area try to find a Catholic therapist. I’ve also gotten great advice from a couple of priests before.

Lastly, I am so sorry we live in a society that makes you feel embarrassed about this. You had no control over this experience. I can’t tell if it’s a recurring one from your post but if it is please find a way to attend mass that works for you and find people to help you get through this soon so your entry into the Church is a beautiful, joy filled experience for you!

God bless and you will be in my prayers!


I’ve seen several therapists too and to my knowledge none were Catholic. I’m pretty sure my psychiatrist isnt, either. I was recently given something to find a Catholic therapist but none were nearby.
I did go to school with a guy whose wife is a Christian councilor but she isn’t Catholic.


I don’t have a car and my insurance doesn’t cover very well to get pro help with my anxiety. Not having a car since last summer is one of the main causes of stress right now. I just can’t afford one.

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