Experiencing Panic Attacks

Millions of people all over the world experience panic attacks. These occur out of the blue and involve a great sense of doom, fear and sometimes even physical symptoms. Panic attacks can be treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and/or antidepressants. Don’t be afraid to seek therapy. Would you rather take a chance with therapy and medications or continue to suffer from panic attacks while in public?

Depressed Americans

Depressed Hispanic woman crying while laying on gray furniture

Coronavirus: An Era Of Depression

I have talked to so many mental health patients who are sitting at home in a depressed state of mind ever since the coronavirus pandemic started. The key word is at “home” because they are functional and not so depressed that they require a hospitalization, but this does not mean that they don’t experience some of the symptoms that come with depression. Even before the coronavirus, there were many Americans already depressed; now, that number has substantially increased.

Some of the symptoms of depression may include a decreased sleep, decreased interest in activities, decreased concentration, decreased appetite, guilt, loss of energy, slowing of body movements or even suicidal ideations. Many Americans experience at least a few of these symptoms while sitting at home with no agenda for the rest of the day. The recurring theme is that they lost their job and are not leaving the house; in other words, they lack activities to keep them preoccupied during the day.

Some people also become very anxious at home and anxiety and depression often go together. They will complain that there’s so much negative news or that people in the neighborhood are not wearing masks, “as if they don’t care that there’s a pandemic going on.” What’s important to understand if you are a reader who identifies with these thoughts is that we cannot force others to wear masks, nor should we expect them to; it’s a free world and people have the right to do what they want.

So why am I pointing out the obvious? Because clearly it’s making you anxious and more depressed that others aren’t following health officials’ recommendations. But why are you getting hurt in the process? You should not be anxious or depressed because of external factors; you need to learn how to put uncontrollable external factors aside and focus on bettering your life. Do your due diligence by wearing a mask and washing your hands but don’t expect others to do the same.

It’s not easy being home because of the coronavirus and not having a job. Some people work from home but still feel depressed because their previous routine of leaving the house and coming back in the evening has been taken away from them; they are not used to using their home space as a work environment after working away from home for over twenty years. As I have mentioned in many previous articles, depression is like a wave and many times you don’t see it coming; you just have to ride it out without falling down.

This coronavirus is a similar wave but much bigger and deadlier. It may be harder to hold on but it’s definitely doable. So don’t allow this wave of depression to knock you off your surfboard. Many people are experiencing the negative emotions that you are; you are never alone in this. So maintain a positive mindset, keep yourself preoccupied during the day by finding work, taking long walks outside, reading, exercising and socializing with others. Don’t allow anxiety and depression to get to you and certainly don’t allow them to bring your down!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

I Am Free Of Panic Attacks

Scared white woman crying while wearing face mask

Positive Affirmation: Free Of Anxiety

“I am free of panic attacks because they no longer control my life, my emotions, my presence in public and they no longer make me experience fear, uncertainty, doubt and sadness!”

COVID-19 And The Illuminati

Paranoid woman screaming with hands on head standing in wooden house

Paranoid And Anxious

Believe it or not, there are people who are decompensating mentally because of conspiracy theories. In the past, conspiracy theories did not contribute to a mental decompensation; if anything, it was other issues in their life that affected their mental health. But during this coronavirus pandemic, some mental health patients who previously entertained conspiracy theories such as The Illuminati aiming for world domination are ending up in the hospital.

It’s not just the conspiracy theories themselves that’s taking a toll on their mental health, but rather the environmental triggers associated with COVID-19. Some of these patients end up losing their jobs and experiencing marital problems, leading to anxiety, stress and paranoia. Substance use also becomes an issue; they start to drink alcohol or even revisit drugs from the past such as cocaine, marijuana and hallucinogens to make them feel better.

When you add all of these stressors together on top of excessive hours spent at home researching topics such as The illuminati, The Bilderberg group and The New World Order, it can be enough for your mind to crack wide open and release all its demons onto you. When this happens, these patients begin to exhibit troublesome and worrisome behavior which causes their families to panic.

Some of these behaviors may include making impulsive decisions, getting drunk, doing cocaine and staring into space while not responding. Their families will describe it as, “It’s like he’s lost his mind. He just stands there and stares.” When these patients arrive on the inpatient psychiatric ward, they admit to their disturbing behavior but still stick by their beliefs of The illuminati being responsible for releasing COVID-19 into society.

Some of you may ask, “What in the world is The illuminati and why would they do that?” It’s a conspiracy theory based on the idea that really wealthy elite individuals are calling the shots regarding what is going on in the world. In this scenario, the conspiracy is based on the idea that this cabal created COVID-19 in order to cause as many deaths worldwide, based on their longtime agenda of population control. Conspiracy theorists believe that The illuminati got the right virus but too low of a lethality.

Unfortunately, when you have underlying mental health problems and environmental stressors such as the coronavirus in your life, brushing up on your conspiracy theories is not the best idea. It may very well end you up in the hospital and as one psychiatric patient said,

“I can’t believe what’s happening to me. I’m in the hospital sitting here talking about the illuminati.”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Silently Panicking

Brown and black desk globe with yellow "stay home" sticky note on top of it

Living In A Ghost Town

The coronavirus pandemic is every bit as mental as it is physical. You are not in the clear if you don’t have physical symptoms because your perception on reality has now been altered. It’s not like you purposely altered your perception; it just happened as a reaction to the virus infecting humanity. Just take a look outside and you will see how quiet the streets are; ghosts have replaced human beings.

New York is not what it used to be. It now takes 30 minutes to get from eastern Queens to Washington Heights where Columbia University is located; on a normal day, it would take 45-60 minutes. Walking down the streets of Manhattan, very few people can be observed. Almost everyone is wearing a mask and you don’t even have to wait at a red light if you are attempting to cross the street; no cars are coming in the opposite direction!

There are more parked cars than there are moving vehicles. Sadly, people are either at home or in the hospital; society feels totally shut down. At least hospital cafeterias and coffee shops remain open; there are no lines and the food options have decreased greatly. But you can still get a nice warm veggie pizza however!

No more long Starbucks lines. You can now receive your Caramel Frappuccino in a couple of minutes. But as you slowly make your way back outside, you unconsciously start to panic after you see the empty streets again. You also develop a dry cough . . . “Does this mean that I have COVID-19?”

As you very well may now, this time of the year you are still susceptible to acquiring a common cold or the flu. But because of the coronavirus slowly destroying society, you start to freak out when your cough persists. Your anxiety level starts to build as you wonder if you are walking around infected. If you are living alone at home, you start to become sad as you start to feel isolated and distanced from society.

But then you remind yourself that the rest of the world is isolated at home too and that you’re not the only one. But does that help?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Coronavirus Madness

Worried man in black suit banging his head against stone wall

Corona In The Air

Many people are showing up to the emergency room despite a nationwide recommendation to self-quarantine; not for coronavirus symptoms per say, but from anxiety due to the coronavirus. For many in society, this whole scare of quarantining, evacuating college dormitories and working from home is affecting their mental health. It’s not every day that we go through this; in fact, it’s not every decade that we go through this. Coronavirus madness is here.

Patients are showing up to the emergency room with rhinorrhea, cough and chills and are worried that they’ve caught the coronavirus. They forget that during these months, they can still catch other illnesses such as the cold or the flu. But combine physical symptoms with the scare portrayed by CNN and Fox News, and you have people who just can’t handle the situation.

Believe it or not, this situation is very stressful for many, especially when they have symptoms of the cold. The fear of actually having the coronavirus puts them on the verge of experiencing suicidal ideations; they believe that their “body is shutting down,” so they rather be dead by taking matters in their own hands, rather than dying as portrayed on television.

Many mental health patients were previously stabilized before the whole coronavirus pandemic: they were taking their medications and experiencing minimal psychiatric symptoms. But when the pandemic hit, their past symptoms came back to life: they’ve become negativistic, withdrawn and taking about 30-60 seconds to respond to a question; they’ve even become catatonic!

Do not underestimate the power that a viral pandemic can have on the mental health of society. Many mentally crack when they hear all the negative news on television; the fear overwhelms them and worsens their mental health. Some are perfectly healthy and have no signs of being sick, but their mental health drops greatly from their baseline just from hearing about the coronavirus pandemic.

Corona is in the air and it can infect your mental health! Make sure that you are surrounded by positive people and always share your feelings and worries with others.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Psychological War

Drawings of Chinese man with face mask on wall

Coronavirus Eating My Brain Away

Times have really changed during the last couple of months. Countries all over the world are battling a viral pandemic that is not only affecting the human body, but the mind as well. The virus is causing great damage to not only the elderly but young folks with no comorbidities. More hospitals in the U.S. and Italy are seeing younger people being admitted and even intubated! This virus is causing panic and skyrocketing anxiety levels; it has become a psychological war.

Store shelves all across the world are emptying at an alarming rate. Walmart and other big chains are decreasing their employee work hours. Countries in Europe such as France, Italy and Spain are under nationwide lockdowns. Public events such as sporting games, concerts and shows have all been canceled.

This virus is now even causing anxiety from one’s home. You don’t even have to leave your living room to feel anxious; your perception on reality is slowly changing. You’re starting to view society as a dangerous place to be. But then again, you don’t want to remain locked inside your home because you want to continue living a normal life.

So you’re gridlocked; you either isolate yourself in your home or you take a chance and go about in society. Either way, your anxiety has never been this high. Psychiatric patients are also suffering more, especially those with a preexisting anxiety disorder or OCD. Those with anxiety are even more worried about their everyday lives and those with OCD are washing their hands until they turn red.

The coronavirus is slowly entering our minds and controlling us. It wants us paralyzed with fear. It whispers to us, “If I can’t get you sick physically, at least I’ll torture you mentally.” Many of us can control our anxiety and go about living our normal lives, but many people are vulnerable to freezing and allowing their preexisting mental illness to get the better half of them.

The most important thing to remember during these types of psychological wars is to remain positive and go about living your normal life without fear. Once you allow fear to plant a seed in your mind, you become a victim before anything even hatches. Take care of your physical health by washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, eating healthy and exercising and maintaining a positive outlook on life.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

So You’re Afraid Of The Coronavirus

Scared woman with face mask leaning on fence during daytime

Self-Harming Your Mental Health

The most effective tool for control of the masses is fear. When fear is used as a form of control, it penetrates the mind of the individual to a great degree, influencing his thoughts, emotions and behavior. Unfortunately, many people do not even realize that they are being controlled by fear; they view fear as a deer views the bright lights of a Chevy pickup in the middle of the Pennsylvania turnpike. So you’re afraid of the coronavirus? It’s time to stop this.

Mass hysteria is why fear spreads faster than the virus itself. The media doesn’t care about spreading fear; it cares about raising its viewership. So why do you continue to watch negative news about the coronavirus? When you continuously harbor doubts about the status of society, you slowly start to self-harm your mental health.

Rather than panicking and allowing fear to get to you, you must continue to live your life as if nothing is happening. What are you going to gain out of stockpiling on toilet paper and masks? Just the very act of doing this should prove to you how you are under the influence of fear; you are being controlled and your actions are proof of this external control.

There are conspiracy theories floating around that the coronavirus was manmade in a laboratory to analyze how the world would react in a time of crisis. What if this scenario were true? What if a group of elite individuals are sitting somewhere in Switzerland analyzing how the world is running around to buy more toilet paper?

While no one is suggesting that this is the case, it’s just an example to keep in mind how fear can manifest from any source and how you can become a victim of fear if you don’t control your mind. Whatever the source of the coronavirus is, no one can doubt its existence and deadly potential.

But what is also extremely harmful is allowing the coronavirus to affect your mental health. Anxiety can have a great toll on the way you think, view the world and even your physical health, such as blood pressure. You’ll be in much better shape if you don’t worry about the coronavirus and go on living your life as if nothing is happening.

Focus on staying positive and bettering yourself. This too shall pass.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Being Open About Panic Attacks

Woman lying on floor experiencing a panic attack with hands on face

Impending Sense Of Doom

Anyone who has ever experienced a panic attack will tell you that it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. The impending sense of doom that many experience when a panic attack comes into being, is a feeling and thought that your life is about to end; everything to come down to this very moment. That’s why being open about panic attacks is important and can prove to be very beneficial.

Sometimes it helps to tell someone around you that you might have a panic attack in the next couple of minutes. It takes a lot of confidence to divulge such information, so that’s why it’s better to tell someone who you feel comfortable with. But if you have the courage to tell anyone, it can still help prevent you from experiencing a panic attack.

When you share with others around you your fear of an impending panic attack, you are basically incorporating another person into your experience: when this happens, there’s a greater chance that the panic attack will not start in the first place, or diminish right away. This is because you’ll feel more comfortable about your situation if someone knows about it.

Part of the battle with panic attacks is that you want to avoid any detection. If anyone notices your symptoms, you start to freak out even more, thinking to yourself, “I probably look like a fool right now. This is so embarrassing!” This worsens the symptoms. But when you tell someone that you’re about to have a panic attack, that person can now help you calm down.

It’s all about distraction with panic attacks. Whenever you become distracted from the train of thoughts surrounding a panic attack, it tends to either never come into play or go away much faster. Because what is a panic attack? It’s a set of uncomfortable anxious symptoms based on thoughts that have gone haywire in the present moment.

Panic attacks are also based on patterns: if you previously had a panic attack in the middle of the mall, then the thought of having a future one, again in that setting, starts to occur even before you arrive at the mall. But if you tell someone who is with you at the mall, “Hey I think it’s about to happen. Can we sit down and relax for a bit?”, there’s a good chance that you’ll feel better, rather than dealing with it on your own.

So don’t let panic attacks corner you. Always tell someone about it, especially if you have a good opportunity to do so. Don’t be embarrassed.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Escaping Panic Attacks

Anxious man holding his head during a panic attack

How To Help Someone With Panic Attacks

Anyone who has ever experienced a panic attack will tell you that it’s one of their worst experiences; maybe more terrifying than a natural disaster. Panic attacks are like intruders who invade your mental space and do not allow you to have peace. They disrupt everything about you during those 5-10 minutes. Escaping panic attacks must be done right!

The more that you fight a panic attack, the greater it becomes in strength. Panic attacks want you to fight them, because they strive on your fear, pain and struggle. Panic attacks are also very sneaky: they’re like snakes coming from behind you and snapping without your awareness.

But once you become cornered by a panic attack, you become more aware of them than anything else. Your surroundings quickly become irrelevant as all you can focus on is the war zone that has just erupted in the depths of your mind. And just as any war zone, you become fearful for your life and consider running away from your current location to hide in a safe haven.

But there is no safe haven outside of your immediate surroundings. Because if you do run away, you are actually beating yourself up. What do you accomplish by running away? You may be in an important meeting, in a room full of people or even seeing a patient in the office; running away will make your current situation awkward.

The safe haven lies in your mind; it always has and it always will. Panic attacks are just intruders that capitalize on the chemical imbalance in your brain; their high is your low! As long as your serotonin levels remain on the low side, panic attacks remain high and elated. So when you attempt to run, you are actually running away from yourself, because everything is happening within your mind.

Besides medications such as antidepressants or benzodiazepines and psychotherapy, such as CBT or psychodynamic, the real way of helping yourself or someone else from panic attacks is by learning how to become comfortable with panic attacks when they do strike. Medications and psychotherapy do help a lot, but if you cannot learn how to become comfortable in your own skin during the attacks, you will continue to struggle.

Experience is key. The more panic attacks you have under your belt, the more comfortable that you become at handling them. And the way to handle them is to remain calm in your present environment and continue to focus on what you were doing prior to the attack. This technique helps prove to yourself that you are still in control of your mind and that you do not have to get up and leave.

You can also try incorporating a technique such as massaging your hands without making it noticeable to those around you. For most people, hand massages feel good and put you in a state of relaxation. Hand massages can be a coping mechanism that you only perform when cornered by a panic attack: they help redirect your thoughts to the good feeling of your hands, and take away your focus from the uncomfortable sensations of the panic. Call it a “hand job” if need be.

Overall, the only way to properly escape a panic attack is by not reacting to it. No matter how difficult and uncomfortable it may be to ride it out, the more experience you have remaining cool, calm and collected during the attacks, the more control that you will gain over future ones.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)