The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) has urged South Africans not to ignore panic signs.

This comes as the country observes “Panic Awareness Day”.

Sadag says the number of calls received from people feeling anxious and stressed has doubled since the beginning of lockdown.

The group’s Operations Director Cassey Chambers says the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has massively contributed to increased levels of panic, stress and anxiety.

Chambers says, “Panic Awareness Day is actually important in the mental health calendar of the year. Even now during COVID, it’s a really important topic because I think so many South Africans are feeling stressed, worried, and feel panicked and anxious all at the same time.”

She adds, “ Now we’ve seen and as we’ve gone more into COVID and the impact of COVID onto our daily lives, people have lost jobs, they are worried about their financial situation, they really are stressing every single day. We are even seeing a huge increase in the number of calls since the beginning of lockdown our call volumes have doubled during COVID-19.”

According to Sadag, panic attacks are frightening and unpleasant, but not in any sense dangerous.

“They are reactions that occur out of context and when a person feels like their survival is somehow threatened, like walking down the street and being confronted with a mugger, we have an instinctual response to either fight or flee. This response produces a sudden surge of adrenaline, accompanied by strong feelings of anxiety and panic and this reaction could save one’s life, if they are in danger.”

People who experience panic attacks may also suffer from:

    • Quickening of the heart rate
    • Palpitations
    • Nausea
    • Hot or cold flashes
    • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
    • Shortness of breath
    • Feeling of an out of body experience or being off-balance
    • These physical symptoms are not usually dangerous, but they are real and treatable

In the video below Psychiatrist Kobus Roux talks about panic attacks: