Panic Attacks & Covid-19: How to cope | Practo

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Covid-19 has caused many mental health issues for people. These issues affect not only those who have Covid-19 but everyone. Depression, anxiety, and stress are growing concerns during this pandemic. To help us deal with anxiety and panic attacks, Dr Venkatesh Babu, a Psychiatrist with over 12 years of experience, talks about how to deal with anxiety attacks, symptoms of panic attacks, how to deal with panic attacks, panic disorder classification, panic disorders with or without agoraphobia, potential causes of panic attacks and how to overcome anxiety and panic attacks.

Video Breakdown:

0:26 – What is Panic Attack?

1:06 – Difference between panic attack & anxiety

1:46 – What is Panic Disorder?

2:17 – What is anticipatory anxiety?

2:31 – What is phobic avoidance?

2:54 – What causes Panic Attacks?

3:39 – Treating panic disorders

4:18 – Coping with panic attacks

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Video Transcript:
Because of COVID-19, there could be alarmingly high rates of anxiety and the fear of getting
COVID-19.People might experience panic attacks, memory difficulties, they might even engage in constant reassurance-seeking behavior.
A panic attack is something which is an abrupt onset of intense fear and discomfort that is
classically characterised by its unexpected nature and the severe intensity of it. There are a checklist of symptoms to identify a panic attack but the most common ones are a racing heartbeat or palpitations, chest discomfort, breathing difficulty, dry mouth, tingling or numbness in the extremities, abdominal discomfort or nausea, the sensation of choking, some even report sudden chills or heat sensations in the body.
And, the fear of dying, depersonalization or derealization phenomenon, or a fear of losing control. The core component of a panic attack is its nature of unexpectedness, and extreme intense form of presentation. A panic attack usually peaks within a couple of minutes and then subsides. There are other forms of anxiety which are largely characterised by worry, distress, or fear. These can be seen as anticipation of a particular stressful event, situation, or experience.
They can be mild, moderate, or severe forms of anxiety symptoms that present. People who experience these panic attacks on a recurrent basis, over a couple of weeks, are diagnosed as having a panic disorder.

It can happen at any time, during the day or night. Some people experience only one panic
attack cannot be diagnosed as a definite panic disorder. There are two types of diagnosis – panic disorder without agoraphobia and panic disorder with agoraphobia.When it comes to anticipatory anxiety, the mind is consciously looking out for the next panic attack to happen.In phobic avoidance, you begin to avoid certain situations or environments. For example, people who experience panic attacks start avoiding social gatherings and close spaces like lifts. Effectively, the mind starts working in a way to protect you from having a next panic attack.

There are certain biological or genetic factors which have already been identified because of which panic attacks can run in families.Secondary to major transitions like childbirth or pregnancy, getting married, relocating to a different country or even loss of loved ones or a health hazard to a family member, can also induce a panic attack.

Lastly, there are certain medical conditions which can induce a panic attack like hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia, and certain cardiac illnesses.Substance use like caffeine or cocaine, they can also induce panic attacks. Medications might be necessary for a short-term basis. Once there is a reduction in the panic attacks the anticipatory anxiety and agoraphobic behaviours also reduce. Secondly, there might be a requirement for psychotherapy sessions to deal with situation-specific conflicts. Once a person does well with the behavioural strategies, the medications might be eventually stopped.Focus on your breathing practices.Deep breathing practice largely helps you calm yourself. You can even try grounding techniques.Hold ice, listen to music, breathe deeply, or drink some water. These are sensory inputs to the brain which distract your mind from stress inputs. Try to maintain good physical and mental hygiene. Maintain a proper sleep cycle, eat well, and hydrate sufficiently, that is drink sufficient water Finally, build a strong social support system.

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