Confusion Can Lead to Panic
Do you feel so hot that you are beginning to sweat? Are you struggling to breathe? Is your mouth drier than the Mojave Desert? Be careful not to jump to the conclusion, “Oh no, I also have the Coronavirus!” This may be a panic attack. Feeling anxiety amidst the Coronavirus pandemic is to be expected and can be a source of great discomfort.
Everyone knows that we are in frightening times, and as much as we know about this virus, there is even more about which we are confused. There is considerable misinformation out there, and we are all anxious about what could happen next. With a little help from the news, it takes no effort for our mind to wander into scary scenarios.
But whereas it may be easy to recognize that you are worrying and are anxious about the Coronavirus, it is quite another matter to be able to identify the physiological symptoms of anxiety, which frustratingly can often mimic the symptoms of Coronavirus.
On top of that, most of us have no way of distinguishing between real and perceived danger. So when we feel vulnerable or threatened, the adrenal glands go into active mode, pumping adrenaline throughout the body.
The surge of adrenaline causes anxiety to increase and can trigger chest pain, shortness of breath and feeling very hot. For those of us who have a history of panic attacks and high anxiety, it is essential to remember that experiencing these symptoms is more likely indicative of being psychosomatic than having the virus.
Nevertheless, these symptoms can trigger a dangerous cycle of panic. Worrying about Coronavirus creates somatic sensations that feel like symptoms of Coronavirus. These symptoms then become the “evidence” that you have the Coronavirus… which triggers more anxiety and subsequently worsening symptoms.
To break this vicious cycle, you need to know the difference between the symptoms of Coronavirus and Anxiety. Become familiar with them so you can spare yourself much unnecessary anguish!
Chills and Feeling Cold
Shortness of Breath
Flu-Like Aches and Pains
Digestive Symptoms (loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting)
Metallic taste/altered sense of smell
Panic Attack Symptoms
Racing heartbeat or increased heart rate
Feeling faint, sweating
Tightness in the chest or chest pain
Shortness of breath
Numbness or pins and needles
Ringing in your ears
Feeling of dread or a fear of dying
Tingling in your fingers
Feeling like you’re not connected to your body
Muscle aches due to contraction (fight-flight response)
COVID-19 Versus Anxiety Symptoms
If you have difficulty determining if the shortness of breath is because of your anxiety or a signal that you may very well have Coronavirus, you are in good company. While it is difficult to give hard fast rules, there are some clues that may help:
Physiological symptoms of anxiety generally abate as your anxiety decreases and your nervous system becomes calmer
Coronavirus symptoms will either persist or may worsen over time, irrespective of your level of anxiety
If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks and suddenly experience chest pain or difficulty breathing without an accompanying fever or cough, it is unlikely that you have Coronavirus
Those people who have underlying respiratory problems are even more likely to mistake anxiety or a panic attack for Coronavirus
WHO‘s Coronavirus Mental Health Advice
Avoid or at least minimize listening to or reading news that will cause you distress or your anxiety to increase
Obtain information primarily to take practical steps to protect and safeguard yourself and your family
Try your best to keep your daily routines even if you are physically isolated
Despite social distancing which limits your physical contacts with others to mitigate the outbreak, be sure to stay connected either on the phone, through email, social media or video conferencing
When you are feeling overly stressed, pay careful attention to your feelings and needs
Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
Stay disciplined regarding your sleep schedule, eating healthy food and exercise regularly, including spending some time in the fresh air
Do your best to keep things in perspective
Help Your Students Cope with the Crisis
The response to the COVID-19 Pandemic is unprecedented. Because of our unique role in children’s K-12 education, we feel a responsibility to do what we can to assist schools, therapists, and students with this transition to online learning and seclusion. To ensure that our students remain engaged and supported, our therapists are providing complimentary “Support Sessions” to the country’s youth. We are also assisting schools by training their therapists for remote therapy. Click here to learn more.
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