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I can’t read the whole article because of the paywall, but I wanted to talk about how COVID-19 has impacted my mental health, and it has very much to do with breathing.

I have always had bad pollen allergies and I have always had moderate anxiety. I live alone. Great family and friends but over the past few months I was completely isolated.

One morning, I felt a tickle in my throat, I was able to tell myself that it was just from post nasal drip and not COVID related. Well, later that night I started to experience shortness of breath, chest tightness/pain. Then, my limbs started to tingle and go numb and lastly my face.

I walked outside for one and a half hours at 10:00 PM, identifying three sounds, three sights and three body parts. I finally calmed myself down from what I learned was an anxiety attack. I suffered multiple episodes of this for 5-6 nights. It was almost always triggered by a thought that I couldn’t breathe or I wasn’t getting enough air or that my chest was tight. It got to the point where I couldn’t function, broke down into tears and at twenty-six years old, I went back to my parents house.

I have been here for about a month. I had a couple minor episodes here, my parents were able to talk me out of it. I was also prescribed medication for the anxiety (so far this has been a tremendous help). One day, I didn’t feel anxious at all but I noticed that I couldn’t take a full deep breath most of the time. My parents told me it’s allergies, but the thought in the back of my mind that it was the virus or worse was always there.

I called my doctor again, he prescribed me singulair. It’s helped considerably but every time now that I take a deep breath I am extra thoughtful about it. I’ve been meditating and doing breathing exercises as often as I remember now and it has helped.

That being said, even if I don’t actually get the virus, this virus has taken a toll on me and my mental health. The isolation, not being in an office and hypochondria have negatively impacted me in ways I never would have imagined. However, I’m stronger for it now.

At 25 with post nasal drip and asthma, I had the same experience I was alone in my Brooklyn apartment for 9 weeks. I had the same progression and my first real experience with panic attacks and am now also at my parent's house but I've been here for less than 2 weeks so far.

This read like my experience entirely. This whole thing has really taken a toll and before this I wasn't really one to panic about anything.

Hyperventilation and anxiety leads to panic attacks. I used to have them, they can feel like you're dying. I recommend seeing a therapist: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23279349

Thanks, that advice in that post is really useful, I had started just keeping on with the task at hand and I'm glad to hear that was the right move. Breathing exercises just made me feel worse in the moment.

As to the therapist, I've had them off and on during particularly difficult times but nothing very long term and that has helped me so I think you're right it may be time to work out another couple month arrangement.

Pretty much the same thing happened to me. Hope you feel better!

Some notes from my own experience: Anxiety meds themselves can cause shortness of breath. Withdrawal from anxiety meds can cause further anxiety. Benadryl to treat post nasal drip can cause difficulty breathing. If you're laying down a lot, especially after eating, that can cause heart burn which if you're not used to it you would think your lungs are burning.

If you can - get tested. It will improve your confidence and help you get out of the funk.

> It was almost always triggered by a thought that I couldn’t breathe or I wasn’t getting enough air or that my chest was tight.

> One day, I didn’t feel anxious at all but I noticed that I couldn’t take a full deep breath most of the time.

What you experienced is called hyperventilation. It's when you breathe so much that you have exhaled too much CO2, causing a pH change in your blood. You then responded with fear that led to recurring panic attack (panic disorder).

I am surprised you didn't use the term 'hyperventilation'. Several years ago I had a similar episode, developing chest pain and recurring panic attacks (panic disorder) due to hyperventilation. In the past I also had moderate (to severe) anxiety.

It was debilitating, but I've resolved my issues with techniques learned through therapy. You might be interested in reading: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23279349

> identifying three sounds, three sights and three body parts

Is there a name or more information about this technique?

I saw it somewhere online, maybe WebMD. They called it the 3-3-3 technique. It's supposed to ground you. It worked for me, but your mileage may vary.

Thanks I had a look and there are a few variations but yours seems simplest. A lot of these techniques seem to be about replacing a runaway train of thought with an innocuous focus of some kind to reset it.

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