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How to Manage Panic Attacks

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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How to Manage Panic Attacks

How to Manage Panic Attacks

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

nytimes.com

4

Key Ideas

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.

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.

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.

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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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.

Anxiety causes shortness of breath

The brain is very powerful. We can see a positive pregnancy test and immediately develop morning sickness. Anxious people can read about the shortness of breath and instantly develop it.

However, shortness of breath is also tied to the way anxious people breathe. Anxious people breathe fast and too shallow. They blow off too much CO2, which makes them feel dizzy and makes their chest feel tight.

To alleviate the symptoms, breathe in slowly through your nose, count to four seconds, and then breathe out slowly through pursed lips. It will normalize your CO2 levels.

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  3. Fit the following affirmation to what you need in the moment: “I am _____, and I deserve every _____ thing.” Ex: “I am beautiful and I deserve every beauty-filled thing.”
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