Start Date

Sunday 11th April

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Diver Panic

Is it a problem?

Divers panic, or sometimes get very close. In fact some research suggests that as many as 1 in 2 divers have experienced panic or near panic at some stage - that's you or your buddy!  In a panic state, people are unable to think clearly and lose control of what they are doing.  Panic is an unpleasant state on the surface but, underwater it can also be dangerous.  

Divers don't talk about panic.  The image you have in your mind of a "scuba diver" is probably not someone thrashing about in an uncontrolled state of panic.  So, if it has happened to you, you most likely wanted to move on quite quickly and find a way to make it not happen again.  

When diver's do talk about panic, we often get hooked on a single point of fault: usually either there was a kit issue (when often there wasn't) OR there was something wrong with the diver (i.e. they were anxious, did something stupid) etc.  And the conclusion is simple - "don't panic next time".  

The trouble is, you knew that already.  It is not as if you intended to panic the first time - it was horrible, of course you would not have done that if you had a choice! 

To stop it happening again, you need to know why it happened in the first place. Work out the cause of the problem and do something to fix it.  Otherwise, you can find yourself stuck. But, with few people really understanding what panic is, you may be struggling to find that explanation.  

Stress is part of diving, not only is it unavoidable, it is the stresses and rising to the challenges that help us to learn.  We can't remove stress entirely.  Instead we learn the skills we need to respond effectively to the stress. We cannot fully prevent any human behaviour but, once we understand what triggers our actions, we realise there are a lot of things we can do to make it less likely to happen.

But what about diver rescue training ...

... don't we cover panic there?

The diving agencies like PADI, SSI, BSAC etc. have some reference to panic in the rescue level courses, and certainly for the practical skills in helping a panic diver, taking rescue training is a good idea.  Learning practical skills to prevent and manage incidents, and rescue a panicked diver is recommended ... but that's not what this course is about.

Prevent Panic covers the things your rescue course didn't.  The Rescue courses are scuba diving courses, they do not go into depth on human behaviour or psychological skills.  Your scuba diving instructor could be excellent, but it is not their role to this, and it's not on the curriculum.

This course will teach you about what panic is and what causes it.  We look at the psychological and physiological experience of panic.  The detail and presentation goes far beyond the small boxes in your rescue diver elearning - for example, there are four extended case studies to help you to apply the concepts.  There are also audio exercises to introduce you to skills for dealing with negative, anxious thoughts. That means it is useful for any diver who is concerned about panic, and also works well as an addition to rescue diver training.

If you did your rescue course and were left wondering: "...but what makes the diver panic?"  "how can we avoid this happening?" or "how come some divers struggle more with anxiety?" -  this is the course for you!


Who is this course for?

Recreational scuba divers of all levels

You are a diver who is curious to learn more about this issue and stay safe.  You are seeking knowledge and skills that can help you to reduce the risks.  It may be that you are also an instructor, and you've seen your students panic, which is a difficult experience.  You want to know how to prevent this from happening with your future students, and want to build your awareness.  

Or perhaps you want to become a better diver by taking further training, but have experienced panic as a barrier to progressing.  This can be very frustrating, it's hard to understand why your reacting this way and you'd just like to be able to dive.  This course helps you to understand why some diver's get stuck with these issues and explores options for seeking suitable scuba diving training.


What we will cover

Click on the sections to discover what's inside!

  • 1

    You are in!

    • A message from your instructor

    • Next steps

    • How to join the discussions

    • The Panic Triangle brief eGuide

    • Before you begin the course...

    • Introductions

  • 2

    Why panic is a problem for scuba divers

    • Your experience of panic in scuba diving

    • A note about discussions

    • Before you start ...

    • In this section you will learn ...

    • What do we know about panic in scuba diving?

    • Quick Check

    • What do scuba divers do when panicked?

    • Some things a panicked diver may do

    • Quick Check

    • The impact of panic on diver development

    • Three reasons panic is a problem for divers

    • Quick Check

    • Don't panic!

    • The short answer

    • Your copy of the panic triangle

    • Meet our divers

    • ... now test yourself

    • Further Resources

    • DISCUSSION | the problem of panic in scuba diving

    • Quick Feedback

  • 3

    What is panic?

    • Before you start ...

    • In this section you will learn ...

    • What is panic?

    • Quick Check

    • Humans are adjustable!

    • Ways to survive

    • What is dissociation?

    • The fight or flight response

    • Quick Check

    • Features of panic and dissociation

    • Getting into panic

    • Quick Check

    • Defining behaviour

    • Why people lose control during a panic state

    • Our Divers - Joyce panics in open water

    • ... now test yourself

    • DISCUSSION | Understanding what panic is and how it affects us

    • Quick Feedback

  • 4

    What causes a scuba diver to panic?

    • Before you start ...

    • In this section you will learn ...

    • What causes scuba divers to panic?

    • Quick Check

    • Panic Triangle: Stressor

    • Task Loading Buckaroo!

    • Stressors in Scuba Diving

    • Our Divers - Dave has a stressful dive

    • Panic Triangle: Readiness

    • Our Divers - Katie's Open Water course

    • Panic Triangle: Regulation

    • Putting it all together

    • Using Worksheet A

    • Worksheet A

    • ... now test yourself

    • Further Resources

    • DISCUSSION | The causes of diver panic

    • Quick Feedback

  • 5

    What keeps scuba divers stuck in panic in the long-term?

    • When panic becomes a repetitive or ongoing issue

    • Before you start ...

    • In this section you will learn ...

    • Our Divers - Jack is involved in a serious incident

    • Learning to fear

    • How panic is maintained

    • Fitness-to-dive

    • The relationship between anxiety and avoidance

    • Quick Check

    • Our Divers - Jack dives after the incident

    • Ways to avoid feeling anxiety

    • Social influences

    • Rising Panic

    • Quick Check

    • ... now test yourself

    • Our Divers - Katie goes on a dive trip

    • What next?

    • Further Resources

    • DISCUSSION | long-term or repeat issues with diver panic

    • Quick Feedback

  • 6

    How to reduce the risks

    • Before you start ...

    • In this section you will learn ...

    • Addressing the factors that can create panic

    • Extinguishing fears, phobias and anxieties

    • Quick Check

    • Our Divers - Jack addresses his issues with panic

    • The Three "C"s: comfort, competence, & confidence

    • Quick Check

    • Our Divers - Katie builds her skills

    • Essential features of learning environment

    • Our Divers - Revisiting Joyce

    • Being fit-to-dive

    • Using Worksheet B

    • Worksheet B

    • ... now test yourself

    • Further Resources

    • DISCUSSION | How to reduce the risks

    • Quick Feedback

  • 7

    Psychological skills for divers

    • Invisible skills

    • In this section you will learn ...

    • Please read this

    • SKILL 1 | Deep Breathing

    • EXAMPLE A | Guided diaphragmatic breathing for scuba divers

    • SKILL 2 | Visualisation

    • EXAMPLE B | Mental rehearsal of regulator removal and recovery

    • SKILL 3 | Grounding

    • EXAMPLE C | The 5-4-3-2-1 System Check

    • SKILL 4 | Defusing

    • EXAMPLE D | Thought Bubbles

    • DISCUSSION | Psychological skills for divers

    • Quick Feedback

  • 8

    Being fit-to-dive

    • Before you start ...

    • In this section you will learn ...

    • The relationship between fitness-to-dive and panic in diving

    • Aspects of dive fitness

    • Bridges between body and mind

    • Quick Check

    • How stress affects our thinking

    • The stressed brain

    • Our Divers - Dave gets fit-to-dive

    • Exercise and Scuba Diving

    • Quick Check

    • What will you do?

    • ... now test yourself

    • Further Resources

    • DISCUSSION | Being fit-to-dive

    • Quick Feedback

  • 9

    End of course

    • Bye for now!

    • Stay in contact

    • One last question ...

    • Help prevent panic in scuba diving

Meet your instructor ...

... and course creator

Instructor & Course Creator

Dr Laura Walton

Diving since 2007, Laura is an active scuba diver and instructor with range of experience from low visibility, cold water dives to tropical locations and the various challenges different sites offer. Her perspective in training is influenced by 20 years of studying psychology & 7 years as a diving professional. Alongside this she previously co-managed an active dive club and school in Scotland, and has experience of the dive industry and community. Laura holds multiple relevant qualifications including PADI IDC Staff Instructor, DDI Instructor, EFR Instructor & DAN Instructor. With her interest in diving psychology and physiology, she seeks to learn more through research and to share understanding through creation of unique courses that help divers to be physically, mentally and emotionally fit-to-dive.

Things you need to know ...

... before booking your place

This course helps you, as a scuba diver, to understand panic, become aware of the factors that lead to panic in diving, so that you are more able to take actions that reduce the risk.  As part of this course you will receive a downloadable worksheet to help make sense of stressful experiences diving, and to identify a range of useful actions.

This is an information-only course for the purpose of diver education.  Any comments or answers provided by the course instructor are relating to general observations, experience or source references.  Professional advice on specific difficulties or psychological issues will not be provided within the course. 

For individual support or advice please see this page.


The course lasts 7 weeks and is released in manageable sections each week.  

You will have 90 days access to complete the course in total.  If you require an extension, please get in touch. 

The course contains notes in pdf and guided audios that you may download for future reference.

The instructor will be checking in on questions on the discussion board.

You will receive a certificate of completion at the end of this course.  


Start Date

Sunday 11th April

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  • 00Hours
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Reviews

5 star rating

Thanks, Laura!!!

Julia Hakenes

In this course you learn a lot about the connection between your body and your mind and how things might add up to experiencing panic. But not only this theo...

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In this course you learn a lot about the connection between your body and your mind and how things might add up to experiencing panic. But not only this theoretical knowledge is taught in an excellent way, you also get useful practical tips and exercises on what to do in order to better avoid panic. This course should be compulsory for every scuba diver!

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5 star rating

Excellent Course!

Aaron Yates

This course is good for divers who have experienced panic and those who have not. It brings to light the process at work in a panicking diver and actions tha...

Read More

This course is good for divers who have experienced panic and those who have not. It brings to light the process at work in a panicking diver and actions that can be taken to remove or control the panic. As the course points out being “Fit” to dive is not just a physical state. Become more aware of your buddies and your own reactionary behavior by taking this class.

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5 star rating

Insightful and relevant, a must do course for all divers!

Faye Wilde

Lots to relate to here and a great overall look at the way panic manifests itself and how to manage it. This is relevant to all divers irrespective of experi...

Read More

Lots to relate to here and a great overall look at the way panic manifests itself and how to manage it. This is relevant to all divers irrespective of experience and has some very important lessons and tools. All divers should take this course!

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