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Panic Attacks Where I’m Terrified of Dying

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So, I caught a virus back in early December. I had been feeling anxious in the run-up to it because I was feeling lonely and sleeping in on my days off.

The virus was bad, and even after it was out of my system, I had symptoms of what my GP assured me was a panic attack: dizziness, nausea, shaking, a lump in the throat, racing heart, fatigue, hot and cold flashes, unsteady on my feet and even vomiting. The scariest parts of these moments are the thoughts that I had a terminal illness and was dying.

I went to my doctor and got a blood test where I filled up 3 vials of blood sent to different labs. They all came back healthy. We have the NHS here but no matter how many times I’ve been reassured that our healthcare is very good and our blood tests are usually very good, I was sure there had been a mistake.

I have lost my appetite on some days and while some days are better than others, there are scary days too. I’m obsessed with worrying about death via illness even though I have no history of physical illness apart from OCD and Anxiety which I am on meds for, (sertraline and beta-blockers.) I check symptoms online, seek reassurance from family, demand to see a doctor, checking my heart rate and breathing etc.

Anyway I have been fine for five days but I had another anxious episode today at the thought of going outside and I threw up. Is throwing up during a panic attack normal?

I try to drink hot tea, smell lavender, do deep breaths and use my old CBT techniques. But whenever I try to fall asleep when I feel weak, I’m scared I’m going to die.

I have another doctor’s appointment coming up. But I’m supposed to travel with my Mum on Saturday and we’re staying in another city overnight in the same dorm room where I was sick in December. I’m supposed to go back to uni I’ve been recommended to see the counsellor but my anxiety says I won’t live that long to see the appointment.

I’m so frightened. What do I do? (From Scotland)

Panic Attacks Where I’m Terrified of Dying

Answered by on -

A.

I can deeply appreciate your anxiety and concern. My best guess is that they may not have tested for the COVID-19 virus back in December in Scotland as there wasn’t enough information out about it. The most recent guidelines for Scotland about COVID-19 are here. While symptoms, testing, and response are here.

Your anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) would certainly have exacerbated your worry and fact that the virus was different and more powerful than you’ve experienced before. While I am not a physician and everything I am suggesting is based on pure speculation, I would suggest finding ways to get some medical advice by calling. Explain what your symptoms were like back in December and if you are having any now. The medical professionals in your country will be able to guide you from there.

Knowing what was happening then may help with your anxiety now. By knowing how to best care for yourself in these circumstances, and why the early reports may not have had the identification I believe can be helpful to you.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Panic Attacks Where I’m Terrified of Dying

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). Panic Attacks Where I’m Terrified of Dying. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/04/03/panic-attacks-where-im-terrified-of-dying/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 2 Apr 2020 (Originally: 3 Apr 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 2 Apr 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.