A COVID Panic Attack: 7 Coping Strategies

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Man having covid panic attack

Understanding COVID Panic Attacks

As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, a parallel and equally significant crisis has emerged: an escalation in covid panic attacks. The fear of contracting the virus, coupled with the drastic changes to our daily lives, has led to a surge in mental health concerns, including heightened anxiety and frequent panic attacks.

These conditions, often characterized by intense fear, restlessness, and physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, are becoming increasingly common among populations worldwide.

Understanding the intricate relationship between COVID-19 and these mental health issues is crucial not only for healthcare professionals but also for individuals navigating this challenging time.

The Rise of Covid Panic Attacks

According to the World Health Organization, the first year of the pandemic saw a 25% increase in the global prevalence of anxiety and depression source. The abrupt changes to daily routines, fear of contracting the virus, social isolation, financial stressors, and the constant stream of distressing news have all contributed to these rising numbers.

Panic attacks, characterized by sudden episodes of intense fear or discomfort, have also seen a marked increase. Google Trends reveals a significant uptick in searches related to panic attacks and their treatments, indicating that more people are experiencing these distressing episodes and seeking help source.

Coping Strategies for COVID Panic Attacks

Managing COVID panic attacks involves a combination of strategies that target both the body and the mind. Here are some effective coping mechanisms:

  1. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation can help calm the mind and body, reducing the intensity of panic attacks.
  2. Stay Active: Regular physical activity can reduce anxiety by boosting your mood and acting as a natural stress reliever.
  3. Maintain a Balanced Diet: Eating a healthy diet can also help manage anxiety. Avoid excessive caffeine and sugar, which can increase anxiety levels.
  4. Limit Exposure to News: Constant exposure to news about the pandemic can contribute to anxiety. Setting specific times to check updates can help manage stress levels.
  5. Reach Out for Support: Speak with trusted friends or family about your feelings. You may also seek professional help from a mental health professional if your panic attacks become overwhelming.
  6. Establish a Consistent Sleep Routine: Lack of sleep can worsen anxiety. Try to establish a regular sleep schedule to ensure you’re getting enough rest.
  7. Panic Away: If panic attacks are frequent and the above methods are failing to stop these panic episodes, then enrolling yourself in a program to attack the source of your anxiety is a proven method for dealing with anxiety disorder. I used a very similar program to defeat my panic disorder once and for all. Read my story here.

Remember, it’s okay to seek professional help if you’re struggling to manage panic attacks on your own. Mental health professionals can provide you with additional strategies and resources.

Recognizing the Difference Between COVID-19 Symptoms and Panic Attack Symptoms

Differentiating between the symptoms of COVID-19 and a panic attack can be difficult, as there is some overlap. Both conditions can cause:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Increased heart rate

However, there are distinct differences. Symptoms unique to COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Body aches

Panic attacks, on the other hand, often induce:

  • A sudden feeling of impending doom
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • A fear of losing control or dying.

It’s important to remember that while panic attacks can feel terrifying, they aren’t physically harmful. In contrast, COVID-19 is a potentially serious illness that requires medical attention. If you’re unsure about your symptoms, it’s crucial to seek professional medical advice.

The psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is profound and far-reaching, with marked increases in anxiety disorders and panic attacks. According to the World Health Organization, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression surged by 25% in the first year of the pandemic alone source.

The abrupt changes to daily routines and social structures have been particularly detrimental, leading to a rise in social anxiety source. In addition to exacerbating existing psychological disorders, the pandemic has also triggered new ones, including PTSD and alcohol misuse source.

This trend is reflected in online behavior as well, with Google Trends revealing a significant uptick in searches related to anxiety, panic attacks, and their treatments source. These findings underscore the need for accessible mental health resources and support during this challenging time.

What If I Start Developing Panic Attacks After Getting COVID?

Experiencing panic attacks after having COVID-19 can be quite distressing, but it’s not uncommon. The stress and anxiety related to the illness, coupled with the physical toll it takes on your body, can potentially trigger panic attacks in some individuals.

Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), also known as long COVID, is a condition where symptoms persist for weeks or even months after the acute phase of the disease has resolved, and can include psychological symptoms like panic attacks.

If you start experiencing panic attacks after COVID-19, it’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional. They can provide you with strategies to manage the panic attacks and may refer you to a mental health specialist if needed.

Treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness techniques, or medication can be effective in managing panic attacks. It’s also important to take care of your overall health by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and staying connected with loved ones for support.

Can COVID Panic Attacks Make Anxiety Worse?

Yes, COVID panic attacks can indeed exacerbate anxiety. This conclusion is supported by various sources that shed light on the psychological impact of the pandemic.

For instance, a Harvard Health blog post suggests that post-COVID fatigue can intensify anxiety, especially when coupled with excessive caffeine source. Johns Hopkins Medicine also notes that some coronavirus survivors have been left with debilitating depression and anxiety, both of which are treatable conditions source.

The NHS mentions that stressful events like having COVID-19 or a hospital stay can cause anxiety source. Furthermore, the American Medical Association states that stress and the loss of normal routines likely contribute to worsening anxiety post-COVID source.

Lastly, the World Health Organization reports a 25% increase in the global prevalence of anxiety and depression during the first year of the pandemic source.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a parallel crisis in the form of increased anxiety and panic attacks. Fear of contracting the virus and significant changes in daily life have led to a surge in mental health concerns globally. Here we explore the complex relationship between COVID-19 and anxiety-related issues, offering coping strategies for managing COVID panic attacks.

We emphasize the importance of recognizing the differences between COVID-19 and panic attack symptoms and highlight the psychological impact of the pandemic, with rising trends in anxiety and panic disorders.

We also highlight the development of panic attacks post-COVID infection and the potential exacerbation of anxiety due to the pandemic’s physical and emotional toll. Seeking professional help and entering programs such as PANIC AWAY are encouraged for those experiencing COVID panic attacks.

Henry Flury

Henry Flury, the guitarist from Butcher Babies, shares his journey of overcoming panic attacks to help others facing the same issue. He started writing to fill the gap in panic attack education online. His blog focuses on understanding anxious thoughts and offers guidance on managing panic attacks for anyone dealing with panic disorder.

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