Is COVID 19 Giving You Panic Attacks
Panic Attacks can be very uncomfortable, and I am sure anyone who has had one will tell you that is an understatement. The feeling of a Panic Attacks is often compared with the feeling of having a heart attack. Though you can not die from having a panic attack. Having said that unless you are positive it is a Panic Attack and not a heart attack you should seek medical attention. So then, what exactly is a panic attack? A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear that reaches a peak within minutes and can include feeling a pounding heartbeat, sweating, an accelerated heart rate, trembling and shortness of breath. You do not have to have anxiety or a history of mental illness to have a panic attack.
Feeling Anxious Is Normal
Anxiety is a normal reaction to uncertainty and things that may harm us. For many of us, the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness make for a very uncertain future. Small businesses are closing or laying off employees. Access to medical care has been reduced for some and others don’t want to go to a hospital for fear of being exposed. Community centers, churches and schools who traditionally provided support to our communities are either closed or have dramatically changed the way we interact with them.
Risk Factors for Panic Attacks
Many of these stressors are also risk factors for Panic Attacks. Across the world people are worried about their jobs, families, health, and finances. There is a rise in alcohol sales across the United States as people try to find ways to reduce stress. (Increased alcohol and drug use is a terrible coping mechanism by the way.) Families find themselves unable to get together to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations. To be sure, these things can definitely cause someone to feel anxious.
It’s important to be kind to yourself. This is an anxiety-provoking and stressful time for everyone, and it makes sense for you to feel more anxious than usual. You are doing the best you can in a time when simply turning on the television can feel overwhelming.
How to Reduce Feelings of Anxiety & Panic
So, what should you do now?
- Well, it isn’t going to be popular but please reduce or eliminate any alcohol or drugs you are using. To read a great article on why this is a good idea you can check out this article from medical news daily.
- Practice mindfulness and gratitude. Practicing gratitude doesn’t get rid of bad things. It does help to take the focus off the bad and place it on to the good in your life. This can help you manage your emotions more effectively.
- Get some exercise. Watching Netflix can be gratifying but it does not get the endorphins going like a good walk or run can. Exercise has been proven to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Plus, exercise is good for weight control and socialization – from a distance.
- Lastly, realize what is within your control, and do that. Anxiety often comes along with feelings of being out of control. We all would love to wave a wand and get rid of this illness, but we can’t. Instead, limit your exposure to news and social media to less than two hours a day and not right before bed. Then find those projects and tasks you couldn’t get to get to before and go to town. Clean out the garage, learn to sew, take up yoga, paint that side table, or fix the mower. Do concrete tasks with measurable steps, and predictable outcomes. These tasks give us a sense of purpose and satisfaction even after they are complete.
Most importantly, remember you don’t need to do this alone. Almost all psychiatrists and therapists are using telehealth right now. Yes, this is scary, but as a society we lived through a pandemic before. If you are experiencing an escalation of anxiety, talk to a professional who can help you through this difficult time. Because we are in this together and if we can get through it, you can too.
Tags: anxiety, Caronavirus, COVID 19, Panic Attacks