Isolation, Loneliness and Panic Attack

Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but interminable periods of loneliness or social isolation can have a negative impact on your physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt moreover a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people. Loneliness can also come because of experiencing mental ill health.

Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of life circumstance and events e.g. loss of a loved one, doing a job that requires travel or relocation, retirement or cultural or language barriers.

Below are some of the most common signs that loneliness and isolation are having a negative impact on your mental and physical health:

  • Tiredness, low energy or lack of motivation
  • Body aches muscle tension and pains, headaches, stomach illness or worsening medical conditions
  • Sleep problems, difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite, sudden weight loss or gain
  • Increased alcohol consumption, smoking or use of drugs
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Thoughts of suicide

Loneliness can affect us physically and psychologically. Connecting with others and your community can be helpful in managing feelings and effects of loneliness and isolation. Other ways of managing isolation and loneliness is to set a routine, including doing meaningful tasks, enjoyable activities, creative endeavors, staying active and practicing self-compassion. Help is available.

A panic attack is a sudden rush of intense anxiety or fear, together with a surge of frightening physical sensations. Panic attacks can include a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling, and muscle tension. They can occur frequently and unexpectedly and are often not related to any external threat.

The way people experience panic attacks will vary from person to person, but some common signs of a panic attack are:

  • Pounding heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Feeling out of physical or emotional control
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sweating
  • Numbness, tingling

Panic attacks are usually brief but may terrify while they last. They can often come on unexpectedly, which makes them even scarier, and are often not related to any external threat.

Below are some suggestions on how to cope during a panic attack:

  • Try not to fight what you are feeling. Often fighting the feelings or pushing them away can increase your fear of panic, giving it more power. Accept your experience and remind yourself that you are experiencing extreme anxiety is most likely out of proportion to any actual danger.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing control and meditation if these have been helpful for you in the past.
  • Reassure yourself that this will pass and if you have experienced a panic attack before, remind yourself of how you got through it.
  • Give yourself time. Try not to rush through the panic attack. When you are ready go back to what you were doing.