Panic Attacks

Increase in panic attacks is a legacy of pandemic

COVID-19 Health

Sufferers do not like to be in crowded places

The number of Covid cases in India has gone down, but its after-effects linger. Panic attacks have increased in people across age groups. 

The WHO released a scientific brief that stated that anxiety and depression among people increased by 25 per cent since the onset of Covid. 

A patient who didn’t want to be named informed The Observer: “After the pandemic , I have become more reserved and don’t like to be surrounded by many people as by being in a crowded place makes me feel anxious and I often get panic like (sic) symptoms.”

Poornamrita Jain, a student who has experienced panic attacks, shared: “I became anxious and had panic attacks on looking at the situation we were in. Being diagnosed with Covid, too, took a toll on my mental health. I used to get nervous after looking at huge crowds… in hospitals and used to think if this pandemic will come to an end or not.”

Dr Amar Bavle, professor and head of the Department of Psychiatry at Rajarajeshwari Medical College, explained: “Panic attacks are episodic anxiety attacks where there is extreme fear that ‘if I die, what will happen to my family’.”

A person who undergoes a panic attack experiences a sudden increase in palpation, difficulty in breathing. Calming him/her can last from five minutes to an hour. In some cases, a person experiences five attacks in a day or five in a month.

Dr Vidya Vijay, a consultant at Another Light Counseling, said: “I had few clients who never had experienced panic attacks, the sole reason being stuck at home, being quarantined, being locked in a room and not being able to meet with loved ones or partners.”

According to Nimhans, “In 2020, an estimated 2.9 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode while, 66 % of US adults with major depressive episode received treatment in 2020”.

A psychologist of Rajarajeshwari Hospital who didn’t want to be named stated that several people came for therapy but never completed the course.

Dr Manivannan RJ, a counselling psychologist at Brahvishmah, said medications and antidepressants work on the brain level.  Besides, he gives therapies like CBT, DBT, hypnotherapy, change life practice, Rational Emotional Behavioural Therapy along with art and painting therapy.      

Dr Vijay said some small practices can ease the life of someone who suffers panic attacks. “In the long run, anticipating or fearing an attack can keep a person in a constant state of panic that leads to panic disorder generally.… Over a period of time, talking about your fear, and talking about your experiences can help in recovery.”  

Though panic attacks might seem like a never-ending cycle, they can be made bearable through treatment.  One can overcome the “constant state of panic” by being aware it is a nuisance.


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