Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Panic

• Uncontrolled shaking
• Risking a different or lesser danger in order to escape
• Holding oneself tight (wrapping the arms around oneself to make smaller)
• High tolerance to pain, not feeling/noticing injuries
• Increased stength, stamina
• Grabbing onto someone and refusing to let go
• Claustrophobia
• Anxiety attacks, pain in the chest, lungs or throat
• Clutching at the throat or chest
• Gasping for air
• A harried, wild appearance
• Thoughts that turn to death or the worst possible outcome
• Copious sweating
• Backing away in quick jerky steps
• Passing out from a stress overload, lack of oxygen, or both…

Win your readers’ hearts by tailoring your character’s emotional responses so they’re compelling, credible, and realistic.

If you struggle with writing emotions like so many writers do, you’ll be happy to know that this sample has been expanded into book form. The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 74 other emotions can be found in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. For more information on this bestselling book and where it can be found, please visit our bookstore.

And the news gets better: we’ve added 15 entries to this collection, including grief, lust, and self-loathing. To access these, simply visit our online library at One Stop For Writers. There, you’ll find all 90 entries from our popular Emotion Thesaurus, which have been updated and enhanced to provide even greater value. Users also enjoy the flexibility of cross-referenced material for easy searchability across all of our completed thesaurus collections. Interested in viewing a sample? Register for free at One Stop, and see what this innovative online library can do for your storytelling.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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5 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Panic

  1. Auyan says:

    One more hint for more extreme cases: Research panic attacks. They’re not fun.

  2. Ellen 1213 says:

    Thanks, this will be great for the brother in my book

  3. You’re so awesome, Julie. Thanks for the pick-me-up! I hope the entries are actually helping, lol.

  4. Julie Musil says:

    Just wanted to tell you awesome ladies that I’m revising my ms, and during the first draft I have (see bookshelf muse) whenever I couldn’t figure out how to show an emotion. So now I’m going through it again and using your awesome resource. I just used “panic.” Thanks so much!

  5. Fiona says:

    Yay! 😀 Thanks I’ve been wanting this one.

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