Fear is not always a bad thing. It is often a very valuable survival instinct. But when left unchecked, fear can lead to the irrational state of panic, which can manifest itself in diverse ways.

Depending on the severity of the emergency, you may experience everything from blind rage to a complete mental shut down (catatonia). So how do you accurately figure out if you are “losing it” in a real life emergency? Here are five signs that you are panicked, along with some tricks to get your mind back on course:

1.) Did you “shut down”?
One sign that you are panicked can be an unresponsive, catatonic reaction. You feel numb, turned off, and generally you just sit there while others may be busy. This can be hard to diagnose, since you have basically “zoned out.” If you find yourself in this debilitated state, try to use your senses to “wake up” and re-engage yourself in the situation. Focus on your 5 senses, one at a time, to regain control over yourself. What are you seeing? Name those things. What do you hear? Name those things. Get your mind working again as best as you can during your reboot.

2.) Are you furious?
I’m not talking about grumpy, mad, or angry. I’m talking about rage. Did you just smash a bunch of things with your fists, but you can’t quite remember why? Anger is a common reaction to a traumatic event, but turning into the Hulk probably won’t help anything. If you find yourself enraged, sit down, breathe deeply, and calm down before you do anything further.

3.) Are you moving too quickly?
Hyperactive behavior is another sign of panic. It’s good to be productively active during or after many emergency scenarios, but running around like a chicken with its head cut off for no reason is an example of hyper behavior turned counterproductive. As with the rage management, breathe and calm down.

4.) Have you been crying and screaming for a while?
Sadness is a natural response to bad situations. However, inconsolable screaming and crying can be a sign of panic. You have to snap out of this funk, in order to become engaged in the tasks of survival. This panicked behavior can be the least rational of the bunch, and therefore the hardest to reign in. Find some point of hope to fix your mind on. Think of something positive and get moving on productive tasks to give your energy an outlet and keep your mind busy.

5.) Is your imagination running wild?
If you are imagining things that aren’t really there, and then acting like they are real, then you are most likely panicked. This fear is commonly amplified by darkness; and at its core, panic is more about our fear of what will happen, than our fear of what has happened. If you can keep your imagination under control, and think logically, you’ll realize that the sound you just heard in the dark was more likely a mouse than a monster.
Ever been panicked? What happened? We’re glad you’re still here, and hope you’ll share your story in the comments.