The current pandemic is affecting the entire globe. As a result, many people may be experiencing panic attacks for the first time.

A panic attack happens suddenly, with short-lived disabling anxiety, fear, or discomfort. Your vision can get blurry, your chest can tighten, and you can't breathe.

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Health

The body's response

A perceived threat may activate the body's physiological "fight or flight" response, similar to what your body would do if you're near a tiger. Your heart starts racing and pumping blood, so your muscles have the fuel to run or fight. 

Panic attacks are relatively common. One in four Americans will have at least one panic attack in their lives. But the pandemic seems to be causing many people to suffer panic attacks within a short time.

The tightening of the chest and breathing difficulties are often confused for symptoms of the new virus.

Panic attacks come on suddenly and typically last only 15 to 20 minutes, while symptoms of the virus emerge over a few days. With the virus, you will also have other symptoms, like a fever and a cough.

For healthy people, a panic attack isn't dangerous. If you experience a panic attack, try the following:

  • Practice full, consistent breathing to combat hyperventilation.
  • Use relaxing distractions, like listening to music.
  • Another distraction method is to stop and notice five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
  • Exercise can also help stave off future panic attacks.

If someone else is in distress, do the following:

  • Ask the person if they want space or support.
  • Don't tell the person to "just calm down." Acknowledge their fear, and let them know you're there to support them.

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Risk Factors For Anxiety
  • Being female (women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than are men
  • Caving into societal pressures to be ‘nice’ or be a high achiever
  • Being a perfectionist
  • High reluctance to share feelings
  • Childhood trauma
  • Cumulative stress
  • Genetic predisposition

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IDEAS

Dump It Or Deal With It

Many times anxiety stems from fearing things that haven’t happened and may never occur. Control how you deal with the unknown and turn your anxiety into a source of strength by letting go of fear and focusing on gratitude.

However, your anxiety may be rooted in realistic fears. If so, then taking action may make you feel more in control of the situation and may be the only answer to reducing your anxiety.

If you are experiencing chest tightness or shortness of breath now, ask yourself first:

  • Are you someone with a history of anxiety, especially if it is tied to health concerns?
  • If yes, did your symptoms show up while reading news about the virus?
  • Do you find it hard to focus on other things?

Paying too much attention is called hypervigilance and body scanning. It is associated with anxiety.

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