As a therapist who works with individuals who experience panic attacks, here are my top 10 things friends, family and concerned others should do (and not do) when someone is having a panic attack. – Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC
Parenting a youth with Type 1 Diabetes can be tough, when a mental health diagnosis has also been ruled in it can make it difficult to manage both aspects. Anxiety is a common among those with T1D, if you think that your child may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety there is lots of helpful resources!
As an attorney experiencing high levels of stress on a daily basis may seem normal to you however too much stress can lead to anxiety. Learn more if you are experiencing anxiety from stress and what treatment options are available.
I’ve been talking with my clients a lot recently about how to manage anxiety and stress. We’re all experiencing probably a higher level of anxiety than what we’re used to. Some people have a lot of skills for managing that and some of us don’t
Everyone has been talking about the Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19. It’s all over the news, it’s pervading daily conversation, and it’s supposedly pretty scary for our older population, particularly those with underlying severe, chronic health conditions. This global epidemic (and some may call it a full-fledged pandemic) is impacting our global health, economy and way of life as we know it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.”
Common signs mimic a common cold or flu, with respiratory symptoms such as a cough, fever, shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
As more and more confirmed cases start popping up all around us, anxiety naturally increases.
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Anxiety is like worry on caffeine. Anxiety is our brain’s way of letting us know that something is unsafe, dangerous or potentially harmful/deadly. We are survival creatures and we don’t like things to disrupt our safe, consistent routine. COVID-19 has begun to do just that.
Anxiety is adaptive. If we sense danger (even perceived danger), our brain perks up and gets our body ready for action to fight, run or freeze. This is how we protect ourselves and those we love.
Anxiety is only good until a certain level. Because anxiety motivates us and keeps us safe, it works great for short bursts and for specific situations. What happens when we are overly anxious for too long of a time? It’s different for everyone, but if we are too anxious, it no longer helps us, and it can begin to interfere with our daily life. We may be recluse, avoid, become depressed or even develop panic attacks.
When we enter an unknown situation like a global viral epidemic, fears run wild. We have little past experience on what to expect, how things may change (humans hate change!) and future impact on our health – physically, emotionally, financially and economically.
We must have anxiety during this time, as it helps us become prepared to take on a threat to our existence. Yet, we still don’t know what will become in our country or in our state. For our own mental health and the mental health of our children watching how we react and respond…we must find ways to use both our emotion mind and our logic mind to stay in the WISE mind (to learn more about “wise mind”, look up Dialectical Behavior Therapy- DBT).
6 WAYS TO MANAGE ANXIETY DURING THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) OUTBREAK
REDUCE YOUR PREOCCUPATION WITH CORONAVIRUS NEWS
Coronavirus is undeniably a major topic of discussion in the news, but constantly listening to updates and reading stories may lead to increased anxiety. It’s also important to know which news sources are providing accurate information so you’re not distressed over news that isn’t even factual. Limit your news consumption so you can stay informed without becoming preoccupied. The WHO is a great resources as is the CDC.
Turn off the t.v. when enjoying a family meal. Turn off alerts from news outlets on your phone. Set aside one or two times a day (if needed) to look at credible news sources so that you can function throughout the rest of your day at school, work or at home.
KNOW YOUR OWN RISK OF CATCHING CORONAVIRUS
According to the CDC, the immediate risk of exposure to the Coronavirus is low for most people. Additionally, it has been reported that most cases are mild. Those who are at a greater risk for experiencing a severe Coronavirus illness are older people and those with preexisting health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. If you fall into one or more of those categories, take extra precaution in your Coronavirus prevention.
Remember, just because you may fall into the high-risk category does NOT mean you will catch it. And if you do, it does NOT mean that you will die. It’s important to keep a rational mind about the statistics.
USE CORRECT PREVENTATIVE METHODS
While you can’t control the spread of Coronavirus, you can control how you respond to this situation. The CDC recommends these everyday actions to prevent the spread of illness:
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
- Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Hand sanitizer is good enough in a pinch.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, eyes, and nose.
- There’s no need to wear a mask. Save them for medical professionals and those who are ill.
This is a big life lesson of learn to control what we can, and accept what we cannot. Germs spread. It’s actually incredible if you think about it, how much our bodies can take on a daily basis with the germs we come into contact with every day. Our bodies are resilient and self-repair constantly. We know what we need to do to do our best in controlling the spread of all germs.
CREATE A PLAN OF ACTION
Talk with those in your household about what to do if Coronavirus spreads to your community. Assess the needs of each person, especially those who are at an increased risk of developing severe complications. Learn about the resources that are available to you in case you need health care services, information, or any additional support. Stay in contact with your work, your child’s school, and local agencies about any upcoming closings or modifications in gatherings.
If it helps, stock up on some necessary supplies like toilet paper, medications, canned and boxed foods, frozen foods, and other supplies that you may need if in your home for 2-4 weeks. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. This is true in times of uncertainty and can really slow the rise of anxiety.
RECOGNIZE THAT IT’S NORMAL TO BE WORRIED ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS
Since we do not yet know everything about the Coronavirus, it’s definitely ok to be worried. Having some anxiety might even encourage you to take preventative measures (like washing your hands more than usual) which, in turn, will reduce your risk of getting sick. However, stressing over the fact that you’re anxious about the Coronavirus will only make the cycle worse.
Stress increases cortisol and other hormones that make us eat worse and sleep less. This can lead to being physically and emotionally run down, with or without the Cornoavirus.
These are always good tips in times of stress:
- Get enough rest. Without enough sleep, our brain/body won’t function optimally.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Try to avoid the extra sugar and carbs and stock up on veges and whole foods.
- Get outside. We need some fresh air and nature to help ease anxiety.
- Move your body. Even just running up and down the stairs, going for a walk around the block or doing a dance party with your kids at home can improve mood.
- Yoga or Meditation can calm a busy mind. Start doing this with your children or partner/spouse, have fun with relaxation. Make it part of your day.
- Stay connected. Even in social distancing times, we need to remain connected (at least emotionally) to those we love.
- Power in the Pause. Start to listen to your body. Most of the time, our body knows what we are feeling before “we” know! Stop, breath, listen and be gentle with yourself.
TALK TO A MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDER…VIRTUALLY!
If your anxiety about Coronavirus is surpassing what you can handle, a little therapy won’t hurt. Anxiety often arises during times of uncertainty, but that’s when it’s most important to keep mentally healthy. Therapy can help you manage anxiety about many different things.
In today’s world, tele-mental health (otherwise known as online therapy or eTherapy) allows people to access mental health therapy from the germ-free comfort of their own home or surroundings!
Having excessive anxiety about the Coronavirus will lead to more harm than good. Use preventative methods, make a plan, and know that you’re going to be okay. Always remember that help is available if you need it, for both your physical and mental needs.
By: Bridget Eickhoff
Anxiety, worry, and panic are felt by many of us at some point in our lives. After attending a training by David Carbonell, Ph.D. on chronic anxiety, I picked up some helpful tools that I would like to share.
The more you oppose unwanted thoughts, feelings, and sensations the worse they can become
A big reason behind anxiety symptoms is self-protection. People often interpreted anxiety as a signal for danger, meaning fight, flight, or freeze; but what if that was a false signal. What if this feeling is intense discomfort that will eventually pass if it is not forced to be silence. Next time you are experiencing anxiety check-in with yourself and if you indeed are in danger or is this discomfort? If it turns out to be discomfort allow yourself 5-10 minutes to worry, you may be surprised how different it feels to allow the worry to have its time rather than continue to suppress it.
The Rule of Opposites
Think of yourself swimming and trying to avoid a large wave coming your way. You may ask yourself “what is the best way for me to avoid this wave?” Your instincts may say to swim away from the wave and hope you can be faster, but in reality the easiest way to avoid the wave is to swim under it. The same can apply to feelings of anxiety and worry. During a panic attack your gut may tell you to hold your breath or take in more breaths at a time, when what is shown to help is taking deep belly breaths. Next time you find yourself beginning to feel anxiety or panic, try to recognize how your gut tells you to react and think about what the opposite might be.
The next time you are experiencing high anxiety or a panic attack be AWARE
Acknowledge and accept the feelings
Wait and Watch – recognize what the sensations in your body and your thoughts (this could be a good time to try doing the opposite of your usual)
Action – make yourself comfortable while waiting for it too pass
Repeat – go through steps a-c and try to think to yourself it will end no matter what I do
End of intense anxiety or panic attack
Our therapists at CARE Counseling are trained and competent in working with those experiencing symptoms of anxiety. Your counselor will be able to help explore with you common patterns of negative thinking, help you develop successful coping skills, and teach calming strategies.
For more helpful information on anxiety click here
Interested in scheduling an appointment?
Call us at 612-223-8898 or schedule online here
Panic attacks are sudden, intense surges of fear, panic, or anxiety. They are overwhelming, and they have physical as well as emotional symptoms.
Many people with panic attacks may have difficulty breathing, sweat profusely, tremble, and feel their hearts pounding.
Some people will also experience chest pain and a feeling of detachment from reality or themselves during a panic attack, so they make think they’re having a heart attack. Others have reported feeling like they are having a stroke.
Panic attacks can be scary and may hit you quickly. Here are 11 strategies you can use to try to stop a panic attack when you’re having one or when you feel one coming on:
While hyperventilating is a symptom of panic attacks that can increase fear, deep breathing can reduce symptoms of panic during an attack.
If you’re able to control your breathing, you’re less likely to experience the hyperventilating that can make other symptoms — and the panic attack itself — worse.
Focus on taking deep breaths in and out through your mouth, feeling the air slowly fill your chest and belly and then slowly leave them again. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a second, and then breathe out for a count of four:
By recognizing that you’re having a panic attack instead of a heart attack, you can remind yourself that this is temporary, it will pass, and that you’re OK.
Take away the fear that you may be dying or that impending doom is looming, both symptoms of panic attacks. This can allow you to focus on other techniques to reduce your symptoms.
Some panic attacks come from triggers that overwhelm you. If you’re in a fast-paced environment with a lot of stimuli, this can feed your panic attack.
To reduce the stimuli, close your eyes during your panic attack. This can block out any extra stimuli and make it easier to focus on your breathing.
Mindfulness can help ground you in the reality of what’s around you. Since panic attacks can cause a feeling of detachment or separation from reality, this can combat your panic attack as it’s approaching or actually happening.
Focus on the physical sensations you are familiar with, like digging your feet into the ground, or feeling the texture of your jeans on your hands. These specific sensations ground you firmly in reality and give you something objective to focus on.
Some people find it helpful to find a single object to focus all of their attention on during a panic attack. Pick one object in clear sight and consciously note everything about it possible.
For example, you may notice how the hand on the clock jerks when it ticks, and that it’s slightly lopsided. Describe the patterns, color, shapes, and size of the object to yourself. Focus all of your energy on this object, and your panic symptoms may subside.
Much like deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques can help stop your panic attack in its tracks by controlling your body’s response as much as possible.
Consciously relax one muscle at a time, starting with something simple like the fingers in your hand, and move your way up through your body.
Muscle relaxation techniques will be most effective when you’ve practiced them beforehand.
What’s the most relaxing place in the world that you can think of? A sunny beach with gently rolling waves? A cabin in the mountains?
Picture yourself there, and try to focus on the details as much as possible. Imagine digging your toes into the warm sand, or smelling the sharp scent of pine trees.
This place should be quiet, calm, and relaxing — no streets of New York or Hong Kong, no matter how much you love the cities in real life.