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!

Coronavirus Symptoms

  • High Fever

  • Chills and Feeling Cold

  • Shortness of Breath

  • Dry Cough

  • Sore Throat

  • 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

  • Nausea

  • Tightness in the chest or chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Trembling

  • Hot flushes

  • Chills

  • Shaky limbs

  • Choking sensation

  • Dizziness

  • Numbness or pins and needles

  • Dry mouth

  • Ringing in your ears

  • Feeling of dread or a fear of dying

  • Churning stomach

  • Tingling in your fingers

  • Feeling like you’re not connected to your body

  • Rapid breathing

  • 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.