To paraphrase “Finding Nemo”: no matter what happens, keep breathing, keep breathing … Slowly, deeply, keep breathing.
Panic disorder, also known as panic syndrome, is an anxiety disorder characterized by sudden “attacks”, in which the person may experience tachycardia (rapid heart), tremors, tachypnea (rapid breathing), dizziness, tingling in the hands and feet, chills, shortness of breath, some people report the feeling of “exiting the body” or the feeling of having a heart attack.
I have received reports telling how much this period of social detachment, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has aggravated panic disorder crises or triggered crises in people who had not had an episode in a long time. That is, people who had their crises under control for months or years and in that moment of stress again experienced a sensation that they thought was asleep.
Anyone can develop panic disorder or have an isolated crisis at some point in life, regardless of gender. Diagnosis and treatment include a multidisciplinary team (psychiatrist and psychologist) and the use of medications and / or psychotherapy.
An important tool in the control of crises, in addition to drug and psychotherapeutic treatment, is learning to control breathing.
It may seem very simple to anyone who has never had a crisis, but anyone who has experienced such a moment knows that it is something that requires some effort. The person becomes breathless, feels suffocated, or tends to hold his breath for a few moments, which ends up worsening the condition.
But the good news is that those who exercised and learned to breathe slowly and deeply, at the beginning of the “attack”, found that they can even prevent other signs from happening and interrupt the cycle, keeping the focus on deep breathing for a few minutes. I met people who learned to work on their breathing and gradually reduced or stopped the medication altogether, always under medical guidance and supervision, of course.
We know that it is not easy for anyone to stay “stuck” at home for so long, away from activities hitherto commonplace, such as studies, work, leisure, and social interaction. If you are in a very limited space and with several people living together day and night, it is even more difficult, not to mention the concerns that naturally haunt this period of uncertainty.
But look: it is possible to maintain focus and self-control, even if there is a whirlwind of things happening around you, Tibetan monks are a good example of this.
There are several ways to work on breathing, ranging from meditation, physical exercise, and even respiratory physiotherapy. You can find the one that best suits you. There are free meditation apps for your cell phone, for example.
Whether you are your center of peace, harmony, and balance in this period of global stress or any time of difficulty.
To paraphrase the film “Finding Nemo: no matter what happens, keep swimming, keep swimming”. I would say: no matter what happens, keep breathing, keep breathing … Slowly, deeply, keep breathing.
Believe me, this will all pass! The pandemic, the isolation, and the turbulent days. We are people in a constant process of learning and evolution and, certainly, after all that, we will be better human beings.
So I want you to have strength and faith, wherever you are. And if by any chance you feel like talking about panic, it will be a great pleasure to talk to you. A big hug!