A number of us will be familiar with the sensation of stress and anxiety. The tight sensation in your chest, the racing thoughts and pounding heart. And with the added monetary pressures and health issues brought on by the present pandemic, more individuals than ever are experiencing such symptoms. A survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) at the start of lockdown revealed that anxiety is at an all time high with more than 25 million individuals – 49.6% of over-16s in Britain – score their anxiety as “high”. Somewhat amazingly, this is more than double the quantity of individuals than at the end of 2019, and the highest since records started.
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While anxiety is bad enough in itself, sometimes anxiety can become a panic attack – a disproportional battle or flight reaction that triggers a sudden rush of adrenaline and the start of alarming physical sensations. “The body prepares itself for battle or flight by increasing the heart rate and you can get one-track mind to be able to concentrate on the danger,” describes Daniel Mansson, scientific psychologist and co-founder of Circulation Neuroscience, the headset and therapy app, drug-free treatment for depression. “If the threat is real this reaction is an excellent method of getting us all set. What takes place in a panic attack is that this response goes too far and there is an escalation of symptoms and a feeling like the experience will never end.”
Symptoms differ. Some feel as if they’re having a cardiovascular disease, others believe they can’t breathe, and some even faint or throw up. “A person experiencing a panic attack can have a racing heart, dizziness, tingling, feeling numb, chest discomfort and a sense of loss of control. They often occur in mix or straight following each other,” states Daniel.
The visceral nature of anxiety attack leave many living in fear of the attacks themselves, adopting avoidance behaviours to steer clear of prospective triggers. This in turn can lead to a hugely limiting presence lived in worry of fear itself. “What typically takes place after you have had a panic attack is that you become scared that it will happen again, perhaps in a public place. This often produces avoidance of public places and safety behaviour, such as bringing an individual with you when you shop. You might even stop exercising as the normal raising of the heart throughout exercise reminds the body of the panic attack,” states Daniel.