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No Time to Panic summary

Matt Gutman

How I Curbed My Anxiety and Conquered a Lifetime of Panic Attacks

4.3 (187 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

No Time to Panic by Matt Gutman is a gripping firsthand account of the author's experiences covering natural disasters around the world. It offers a compelling look into the lives of those affected and the importance of emergency preparedness.

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    No Time to Panic
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    Panic 101

    When Matt Gutman was just 12 years old, his father – then 42 – died suddenly in a plane crash. This early trauma had a profound impact on Matt, and spurred him on to a career in journalism.

    As a journalist, Matt had a reputation for being fearless. Some friends even speculated his risk-taking bordered on a flirtation with an early exit, mirroring his father’s death. Matt reported from some of the world’s most dangerous conflict zones: Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza. But while he seemed cool under pressure, in private, he was battling debilitating panic attacks.

    In December 2019, he had his own forty-second birthday and began to grapple with the strange reality of outliving his dad. Weeks later, from another crash site, Matt suffered a panic attack, which caused him to misreport the details of the tragic accident that killed basketball player Kobe Bryant and eight others – including Bryant’s daughter, Gianna. 

    In the wake of this error, Matt was suspended. With time on his hands, he decided he needed to get to grips with the panic disorder that had, for so long, limited his life. He began with trying to understand the basics. Here’s what he found. 

    According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a panic attack involves an abrupt and intense surge of fear that reaches its peak within minutes. While fear helps us react to immediate threats, anxiety involves perceived future dangers and often triggers panic attacks. About 5 percent of Americans experience panic disorder, defined as repeated unexpected panic episodes and chronic anxiety about having attacks. As for Americans who’ve reported suffering at least one attack, the numbers are less clear – but estimates go all the way up to 85 million people. 

    So, what exactly happens during a panic attack? The amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the brain, acts as an innate danger detector. It senses threats before the thinking frontal cortex has time to react rationally. In panic, the amygdala hijacks the brain's emotional system. It triggers the hypothalamus to activate the body's fight, flight, or freeze response by flooding it with adrenaline and stress hormones. This acute stress reaction primes the body to respond to perceived danger. 

    Physical panic symptoms match those needed for fleeing, battling, or freezing in the face of real bodily threats. But in a panic attack, the amygdala misfires in response to everyday stresses or anxieties – unnecessarily putting the emergency system on high alert. Panic attacks fool sufferers into thinking they are dying since the physical sensations simulate mortal peril. This is why attacks feel so viscerally real despite no actual mortal threat. 

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    What is No Time to Panic about?

    No Time to Panic (2023) is a personal exploration of the causes and treatments of panic attacks. It’s grounded in the latest science and informed by interviews with leading specialists in the field. 

    No Time to Panic Review

    No Time to Panic (2021) by Matt Gutman is a gripping account of the author's personal experiences and observations as a reporter covering disasters around the world. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With vivid descriptions and firsthand accounts, it offers an immersive and insightful look into the chaos and resilience in the face of disaster.
    • Through Gutman's in-depth research and interviews with survivors, the book presents a comprehensive understanding of the complexities and impact of various emergencies.
    • Its compelling storytelling and fast-paced narrative keep readers engaged, ensuring that this book is anything but boring.

    Who should read No Time to Panic?

    • People who suffer from panic attacks, anxiety, or related disorders
    • Those close to someone who has a panic disorder
    • Anyone who’s interested in psychology, evolutionary biology, or neuroscience

    About the Author

    Matt Gutman is the chief national correspondent for ABC News. He regularly contributes to the network's flagship programs, including World News Tonight with David Muir, 20/20, Good Morning America, and Nightline. 

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    No Time to Panic FAQs 

    What is the main message of No Time to Panic?

    No Time to Panic is a gripping memoir that shows the power of resilience and hope in the midst of disaster.

    How long does it take to read No Time to Panic?

    The reading time for No Time to Panic varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is No Time to Panic a good book? Is it worth reading?

    No Time to Panic is a compelling read that offers an intimate perspective on survival and human strength. It's definitely worth reading!

    Who is the author of No Time to Panic?

    Matt Gutman is the author of No Time to Panic.

    What to read after No Time to Panic?

    If you're wondering what to read next after No Time to Panic, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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