Pandemic Anxiety by da-AL + Panic Attack Rescue by Caz

As the Covid epidemic drags on and on and on, for what seems like forever, the challenge of keeping socially distanced is easier for some of us. For me, working on my novels (about the books I’m working on H-E-R-E), teaches me the importance of being okay with keeping my own company. Of course, I’m beyond fortunate that my friends and family are doing well physically, emotionally, and financially. That includes my dear dog, K-D. She breaks up the surrealism of these weird times by staying close while I do ZOOM yoga and pilates.

Make no mistake, Covid is horrendous in every way. Who among us hasn’t been freaked out by it? My husband and I got sick with it just before the vaccines came out. We were lucky to survive, fortunate to have gotten medical attention. That said, I’m still dealing with Covid-related health problems.

Video exercise helps me, especially with my friend by my side to break up the surrealism. So does acquiring new blogger gadgets like a selfie stick — gawd! it took COVID for me to succumb to the very thing I was too snooty to try.
Zoom exercise helps me, especially with my furry girl at my side to break up the surrealism. So does acquiring new blogger gadgets like a selfie stick — gawd! it took Covid for me to succumb to the very thing that before, I was too snooty to try.

Whatever might stress you out, whether it’s Covid or otherwise, meet Caz, a London blogger with kindness so immense that she blogs her experiences into healing wisdom. She worked in mental health, and you can reach her at her site, Mental Health 360 dot U K, no spaces. These are her best tips for keeping our heads when anxiety threatens to do us in…

How to manage panic attacks by Caz

As someone who’s experienced severe panic attacks, I understand just how frightening and debilitating they are. I never want to experience another one and if this is you too, let’s look at how to prevent them. First tho’, in order to overcome panic attacks, you’ll need to understand what they are.

What is a panic attack or panic disorder?

We’ve all had feelings of anxiety — it’s our body’s natural response to stress, and it’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. For example, you may feel anxious about a job interview. During times like this, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal, but some people find it harder to control their anxieties. The most severe form of anxiety can trigger panic attacks.

We have panic attacks and panic disorder; one episode is a panic attack, which might occur following the death of someone close or another stressful situation. Panic disorder is when you experience regular and subsequent attacks. It’s a common yet very misunderstood illness and lots of people with this disorder won’t ever seek help due to fear and stigma.

The attacks can occur often and at any time, seemingly for no apparent reason. It feels like a sudden, unexpected rush of intense fear and anxiety along with a flood of frightening thoughts and physical sensations — so, panic attacks are not merely psychological.

What you should know about panic disorder

  • Many of the symptoms of panic attack are similar to some physical illnesses i.e. heart attack or over-active thyroid.
  • It’s a chronic condition and can lead to changes in behaviour like avoiding situations or events.
  • People dread the onset of another attack, and the fear of having one is just as debilitating as the attacks themselves.
  • Panic disorder knows no boundaries as it affects people of all socio-economic groups and races. It’s more common in women than men. It can also affect children and the elderly.
  • Although the exact causes are unclear, panic disorders can run in families.
  • While many attacks are triggered by stressful life events, they can also occur ‘out of the blue’.
  • Be aware — anti-malaria medication, cold and flu medications, appetite suppressants and even too much caffeine can trigger panic attacks in some people.

If you experience panic attacks, you might then begin to avoid events or situations because you’re afraid of another attack. However, avoidance can create a cycle of living in “fear of the fear”, which adds to your sense of panic. This can cause you to have more panic attacks, leading to diagnosis of panic disorder

What are the symptoms of Panic?

If we encounter a situation that threatens our safety, we’ll experience a series of reactions known as the ‘fight or flight’ response — triggered by the release of chemicals that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or to flee to safety.

During a panic attack, we’ll experience similar symptoms, even when there’s no real threat involved. A panic attack might happen in response to situations that others find harmless. Symptoms include physical and physiological symptoms, such as these ten:

  1. Racing heartbeat, palpitations
  2. Dizziness, light-headedness, or nausea
  3. Difficulty breathing, like you can’t get enough air
  4. Dry mouth and unable to swallow — if you do need fluids, just take smalls sips to avoid choking
  5. Shaking, trembling
  6. Sweating and hot flushes or sudden chills
  7. Sudden need to go to the toilet, the body needs to lighten to fight or flee
  8. Numbness or tingling sensations, initially in your fingers and toes
  9. Your face, feet and hands might go white (as with the tingling, this is the blood leaving your extremities to rush to where it’s needed most i.e. heart and muscles)
  10. Chest pains — you might think you’re having a heart attack — one way to tell is — if your fingers and toes are tingling, you’re more likely to be having a panic attack. However, if you’re afraid always dial 999, or whatever your country’s emergency phone number is, to check

You might experience negative thoughts…

  • “I’m so embarrassed, everyone can see me panicking.”
  • “I feel like I’m dying” or “I’m dying”, or “I’m having a heart attack.”
  • “I can’t cope with this!”

…and feelings of…

  • You’re going mad or crazy.
  • Being out of physical or emotional control.
  • Unreality/detachment from yourself or your surroundings.
  • Heightened sound and visual awareness, and hypervigilance (for flight or flee you need to hear and see clearly and be vigilant).

A panic attack generally lasts between four and twenty minutes, although it often feels a lot longer. However, they have been known to last an hour. I had them one after another, and all night for around three months and it felt like torture.

What to do if you’re having a panic attack

  1. Breathe as slowly and deeply as possible, exhaling firstly through your mouth — slowly for a count of 8-10 seconds, then in through your nose slowly and so on.
  2. Recognise that this is a panic attack and tell yourself that it will pass, because it will.
  3. Try to get to a quiet space and sit down if necessary and continue with the breathing.
  4. If you’re at work or outside, ask for help, I know this might feel a little embarrassing, but do ask if you need to.
  5. Count backwards slowly from 100 or…
  6. …look around for 5 things that you can see and name them out loud i.e. “I can see a truck,” etc. You can go onto things you can hear, smell, taste, or touch in the same way — until the panic subsides. This technique will help you stay in the present and grounded by using your five senses.
  7. Use muscle relaxation techniques — try slumping your shoulders, letting them drop down from your ears, give your jaw a little wiggle then let it relax, uncross your legs, unclench your fists and lay the palms of your hands lightly on your thighs (remind yourself that your body cannot be relaxed and tense at the same time).
  8. Put a few drops of lavender (known to ease anxiety) on a tissue, exhale then breathe it in slowly.
  9. Dial 999 if the symptoms continue or get worse.

What to do if someone else is having a panic attack

  • Ask the person if they’ve had a panic attack before, and what they think might help them or has helped them in the past.
  • Encourage them (or tell them quite firmly if they’re confused and unable to follow directions) to breathe (as above). Do this with them if necessary, as often they think they can’t breathe and won’t be able to do this alone.
  • Follow the above steps and call 999 if necessary.

Self-help to combat panic attacks

  1. Listen (regularly) to free mental wellbeing audio guides online.
  2. Search and download relaxation and mindfulness apps or online community apps.
  3. Learn other skills like visualisation to help you relax and practice them often.
  4. Notice when your body is tense i.e. when your shoulders are up round your ears or your fists are clenched and let them relax. When your body is constantly tensed up, it’s effectively telling your brain you’re on alert, tensed and ready to fight or flee.
  5. Ask your close friends or family members to support you by gently pointing out when you’re all hunched up and tense. Even better, perhaps they’ll give you a light head massage, or lightly rub your arms and hands in a soothing way.
  6. Practice the breathing exercises often so that you’ll be able to use them easily when needed.
  7. Try mixing lavender oil with other aromatherapy oils like geranium to produce your own stress reliever.

I can’t stress enough the need to practice the coping techniques. You know you wouldn’t be able to drive say on a motorway after having just one lesson. It takes practice!

Treatment for Panic attacks

Treatment aims to reduce the number of panic attacks you have and ease your symptoms.

  • Psychological (talking) therapies and medicine are the main treatments for panic disorder
  • Depending on your symptoms, you may need either of these treatments, or a combination of both

When to get help

  • If you’re having suicidal thoughts, please seek professional help. Or talk to someone close.
  • See a GP if you’ve been experiencing symptoms of panic disorder. Regardless of how long you’ve had the symptoms, if panic attacks are interfering with your life, work, or relationships you should seek professional help.
  • Although panic disorder is a medical condition in its own right, there can sometimes be a physical reason for your symptoms — and treating it can bring the anxious feelings to an end. See your GP to rule out any other causes and don’t self-diagnose.

Over to you

The above lists are not exhaustive, and you may have other tips for readers, which you can leave in the comment section below. Please feel free to make any other comments and ask any questions.

Have you or anyone you know experienced anxiety or panic? What helped you or them?

100 thoughts on “Pandemic Anxiety by da-AL + Panic Attack Rescue by Caz

  1. thewheelchairteen November 8, 2020 / 11:17 am

    Thank you for this – I learned a lot from this post. I suffered from depression myself last year and since then have been trying to educate myself as much as possible about conditions like anxiety and panic attacks which I had no idea could feel so awful. People don’t realise how serious invisible disabilities can be – just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean that they’re not horrible to live with. Lockdown was hard for me because I’m a wheelchair-user who needs a lot of space to be able to move around. I’ve been feeling quite trapped.

    Liked by 2 people

    • da-AL November 9, 2020 / 3:42 pm

      so sorry dear — sending you my very best ❤

      Like

  2. K E Garland October 30, 2020 / 11:27 am

    I love Caz’s blog. I’m over the Zoom meetings. What’s funny is I spent three years trying to convince my college/department to use Zoom…I was the only one using it for classes. No one listened to me, and now it’s all the rage, and I’m OVER it (as well as other virtual things). I attended a virtual funeral; my friends and I have a Zoom happy hour once a month; I’ve presented countless times this year via Zoom.

    Okay. I’m done. I didn’t mean to go off on a rant session. Hope you’ve been well da-AL ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • da-AL October 31, 2020 / 5:35 pm

      balance — that’s what we need — a little zoom, a little not zoom lol. always love seeing you here, dear Kathy ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. lightbladelife October 28, 2020 / 2:56 am

    Thanks for sharing. Anxiety seems to run in the family and my daughter suffers from anxiety attacks. She hates the breathing exercises and counting so I invent a new distraction each time, sometimes multiple times a day. Sometimes pretend puppies are crawling into her arms or bananas are falling out of her ears. In my worst and most exhausted moments, I resort to saying random unconnected words as she hyperventilate. Poop. Peanut butter. Cat farts. Surprisingly it works. Distance learning has been helpful because she can turn off her camera when she feels anxiety and her classmates can’t see. Not a great long term solution but she sure has built a lot more confidence this year having classes virtually!

    Liked by 3 people

    • da-AL October 31, 2020 / 5:16 pm

      you are truly a Supermom ❤ my best to you & yours, dear 🙂

      Like

  4. Jonathan Caswell October 26, 2020 / 8:54 am

    MY NICKNAME IS “CAZ”…HAVING GONE THROUGH SEVERAL YEARS OF PANIC ATTACKS, WHAT CAZ SAYS HITS HOME WITH ME!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. DutchIl October 26, 2020 / 7:40 am

    Thank you for sharing!!.. I like being independent so distance is not a issue….to prevent me from having a panic attack, I make sure I am stocked up on wine…. as for others, I will do what I can but more than likely I will call 911 just the same… 🙂

    Hope all is well in your part of the universe and life is all that you wish for it to be, until we meet again…

    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 3 people

      • laxmikiss November 6, 2020 / 2:11 pm

        i love your post how to deal with this anxiety in this world is not easy but the bible say we should throw all our anxiety to God for he will carry them , this helped me a supplement called ashwagandha helped me with my anxiety attacks and now am free

        Liked by 2 people

        • da-AL November 7, 2020 / 1:25 am

          glad you found solace

          Like

  6. Pradipta Roy October 25, 2020 / 9:32 pm

    It is really helpful. A close friend of mine suffered from panic attacks a few months back. Even I was dealing with anxiety in the beginning of the year. Changing my lifestyle a little bit and making more time for exercise and yoga, doing meditation and a healthy diet and taking up a new hobby helped me lot.

    Liked by 3 people

    • da-AL October 31, 2020 / 5:07 pm

      I find a little can go a long way too – tho sometimes I need more as well 🙂

      Like

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