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COVID, Flu, & Panic Attacks are real concerns. How do I tell the difference?

COVID and FLU are both contagious respiratory illnesses. Panic attacks are "sudden episodes of intense fear or anxiety and physical symptoms, based on a perceived threat rather than imminent danger." Mayo Clinic All three have similar underlining symptoms.

What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?

"Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.

While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date." 1

Coping through COVID

What can I do to support myself and family during this time? Tune-in to Dr. John Santopietro's Podcast to learn tips on "Coping through COVID".

Am I having a Panic Attack?

Did you know panic attacks and COVID-19 share some of the same symptoms? Visit to learn how you can spot the differences between the two, and for easy and effective strategies to manage your stress during challenging times.

According to the Mayo panic attacks typically begin suddenly, without warning. They can strike at any time — when you're driving a car, at the mall, sound asleep, or in the middle of a business meeting. You may have occasional panic attacks, or they may occur frequently.

Panic attacks have many variations, but symptoms usually peak within minutes. You may feel fatigued and worn out after a panic attack subsides.

Panic attacks typically include some of these signs or symptoms:

  1. Sense of impending doom or danger

  2. Fear of loss of control or death

  3. Rapid, pounding heart rate

  4. Sweating

  5. Trembling or shaking

  6. Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat

  7. Chills

  8. Hot flashes

  9. Nausea

  10. Abdominal cramping

  11. Chest pain

  12. Headache

  13. Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness

  14. Numbness or tingling sensation

  15. Feeling of unreality or detachment

What causes panic attacks, and how can you prevent them? - Cindy J. Aaronson

What to do to overcome panic attacks?

Here are eight simple and effective ways to battle anxiety without medication.

SHOUT IT OUT: Talking to a trusted friend is one way to cope with anxiety. Get moving. Break up with caffeine. Give yourself a bedtime. Feel OK saying no. Don't skip meals. Give yourself an exit strategy. Live in the moment.

Need additional help:

SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

The staff at NAMI are well-trained to answer questions on a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety. Available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, this organization provides free information and referrals to treatment programs, support groups, and educational programs. NAMI also offers help for family members, information about jobs programs, and connections to legal representation in your area.

  1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

If severe anxiety is causing you to experience suicidal thoughts, don’t hesitate to call this free, 24-hour crisis intervention hotline. Counselors can help you ease your anxiety and get to the clear headspace you need to seek help. There are separate hotline numbers for Spanish speakers: 1-888-628-9454; the hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889; and veterans: 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat with a crisis volunteer live on their website.

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

If you’re not in danger of harming yourself or others, but are ready to seek medical care for your anxiety, SAMHSA’s treatment locator service can help you find a mental health facility near your that specializes in anxiety. The service is available in both English and Spanish 24 hours a day and can also point you to support groups, substance abuse treatment programs, and community-based organizations.

  1. Boys Town National Hotline: 1-800-448-3000

Anxiety in teenagers is becoming more common as they face the mounting pressures of schoolwork, college preparation, first jobs, social activities, and becoming an adult, on top of any issues they may face with their families at home. Both children and parents can call this hotline 24/7 for free crisis intervention services, plus information and referrals to valuable mental health resources. Email, text, and online chat-based services are also available.

  1. Teen Line: 1-310-855-HOPE (4673) or 1-800-TLC-TEEN (852-8336)

Another valuable resource for young adults facing anxiety, Teen Line offers teen-to-teen counseling services available between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. PST. Callers can talk to one of their peers about what they’re going through and learn strategies that have helped other young people just like them. The service is also available by texting “TEEN” to 839863, as well as via email and message boards.

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