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How to Manage Panic Attacks

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/smarter-living/coronavirus-managing-panic-attacks.html

nytimes.com

How to Manage Panic Attacks
Credit... Video by Jon Han The sudden, short-lived feeling of anxiety, shortness of breath and disabling fear can be confused with symptoms of coronavirus. Here's what to do about it. Credit... Video by Jon Han Anna Daniels, a 27-year-old living in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was scheduled to start a new job as a nanny on March 30.

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A panic attack

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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The body's response

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.

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Panic attack symptoms

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.

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Guidelines

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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Normal And Clinical Anxiety

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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
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Tips For Treating Anxiety

  • Visit your primary care doctor. Your symptoms may be from another condition with similar symptoms.
  • Ensure your chosen mental health professional is well versed in cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves the active restructuring of anxious thoughts and behaviors.
  • Consider skipping the caffeine and other stimulants that may exacerbate anxiety.
  • Exercise. Research indicates that routine exercise wards off the development of panic-related disorders.
  • Remind yourself that it’s okay to be anxious—in fact, the more demand you put on yourself to not be anxious, the more stressed you become.
  • Recognize, identify and cope with your anxiety to stay in control.

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Experiencing Panic Attacks

Experiencing Panic Attacks
  • Around 15 to 30 percent of us experience a panic attack at least once in our lives, which is essentially our body’s emergency response system.
  • Sym...

Understanding The Panic Cycle

There are three reactions that the body produces when in the grip of a panic attack:

  1. Catastrophic or danger-oriented thoughts, which fuel the feeling of fear.
  2. Physical symptoms, like sudden racing of the heart.
  3. An urge to escape.

Panic And The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) region of the brain is activated during a panic attack, and two opposing components get to work as needed:

  1. The Sympathetic Nervous System: Releases adrenaline and other hormones to help with the ‘fight or flight’ response.
  2. The Parasympathetic system: Calms the body and is mostly activated when one is relaxed.

Use Aromatherapy

Whether they’re in oil form, incense, or a candle, scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood can be very soothing.

Aromatherapy is thought to help activate certain receptors in your ...

Go For a Walk Or Do Yoga

Walking away from an anxiety inducing situation can be very effective. Taking some time to focus on your body and not your mind may help relieve your anxiety.

Write Down Your Thoughts

Writing down what’s making you anxious gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting.