Sometimes anxiety and intense fear give you sudden chills. Most of us have experienced it in our lifetime. It can happen to anyone at anytime. But mostly it occurs when we hear news of any stressful situation. Sometimes it occurs without acute condition too. It leads to a rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, sweating, shaking, cold extremities, dry mouth etc.

The Covid-19 Panic attack

The Covid-19 wave sweeps strongly across several countries. The pandemic has triggered panic attacks among wide range of people all over the globe. Nervousness, fear of contamination, fear of quarantine, constant reassurance seeking behaviour, sleep disturbance, excessive worry, feelings of helplessness and probability of an economic slowdown are the major factors leading to depression and anxiety among the people all over the world.

Dave Granlund cartoon on Wall Street and the coronavirus outbreak.

A panic attack often stems from a direct trigger or incident, but they can also begin suddenly and randomly with no obvious cause. They are believed to come from an evolutionary response to danger. Recurrent panic attacks are very depressing. For some it occurs for seconds and some it occurs for minutes to hours. Panic attack and anxiety have become a common trend in the Covid-19 era.

Panic attack symptoms

  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Chills or feeling unusually hot
  • Dizziness and feeling lightheaded
  • Experiencing a strong, sudden fear of dying
  • Feelings of choking
  • Heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, or rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Sweating
  • Trouble breathing, feeling as if a person is smothering
Common symptoms of panic attack

Panic attack causes

Major cause of panic attack in recent times- Covid-19

Panic attacks have several risk factors. These include:

  • Traumatic experience in present or past.
  • Stressful situations like death in family.
  • Ongoing stress or anxiety due to social, economic conditions
  • Living with a chronic health condition
  • Anxious personality
  • Mental health disorder, such as depression
  • Family members who also have similar problems.
  • Using drugs or alcohol
  • Those having fear of closed space (agoraphobia)

Any person having recurrent panic attacks needs detailed evaluation and psychiatric consultation. It is ultimate difficult situation for everyone. Sometimes the symptoms associated with a panic attack can mirror other medical conditions. Examples of these include lung disorders, heart conditions, or thyroid problems.

Why it occurs!

Anxiety and panic, are necessary part of our survival. However, when levels become high we become afraid.When the brain receives nervous signals designed to warn of imminent danger, the amygdala, a part of the brain, is activated. The amygdala controls a personā€™s anxious response.

When a person is given the signal to react with anxiety, they produce adrenaline, also known as epinephrine. It causes the response of panic attack in our body. It’s the fight and flight response.

Presently many people are experiencing panic attack due to Covid-19. It has become a new trend. So be aware of it. How to avert a panic attack is the topic of another Sunday mirror.

Please read and share

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1: Liu S, Yang L, Zhang C, Xiang YT, Liu Z, Hu S, Zhang B. Online mental health services in China during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2020 Apr 1;7(4):e17-8.

2: Sheehan DV. Panic attacks and phobias. New England Journal of Medicine. 1982 Jul 15;307(3):156-8.



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