A Worldwide Anxiety?
As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to grow, more and more people have been finding themselves overwhelmed and understandably anxious. Anxiety is something that most everyone feels, as it’s our natural response to stress.
However, with this global pandemic making headlines on every media source, people are experiencing an oversaturation of breaking news and subsequently the alarm and panic that comes with it. World events are taking an emotional toll on people, especially those who already have anxiety disorders.
What If I Have an Existing Anxiety Disorder?
Those with preexisting Anxiety Disorders are hit especially hard, especially in the wake of the global pandemic that is occurring. Those who struggle with these anxiety disorders have found themselves spiraling out of control due to the uncertainty of worldwide conditions.
Krystal Lewis, a clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health comments on the Washington Post stating: “This is definitely a trigger for a lot of patients…for anyone who might have OCD or specific concerns about getting sick, once you start seeing those signs pop up even more, and the Purell is everywhere, it can be really tough.”
Certainly, this is a struggle for those with existing conditions. What help is there for those who are coping with panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder? John Sharp, MD, contributor for Harvard Health Publishing comments:
Talking to a mental health professional can bolster your ability to address present concerns, and help you clarify where your feelings are coming from…When you’re feeling extra worried or overwhelmed, it could be that some of your feelings are from the present challenge and some are from challenges you have faced in the past.
Sharp also goes on to mention the benefit of utilizing telehealth visits from psychotherapists. This is something that many medical professionals are utilizing, especially during the height of social distancing. He recommends verifying with your therapist or insurance plan if this is an option.
Helpguide.org provides helpful insight as to how to stay informed without overindulging too much. For more information on how people with anxiety disorders can cope with the new coronavirus pandemic, read the full article: HERE
What If I’m Feeling Unusually Anxious?
Not everyone knows exactly how they will react to an unprecedented worldwide event such as the one we are all experiencing today. The anticipation of things to follow has definitely brought out the anxious person within all of us. Some find themselves feeling severely panicked when they are faced with the overwhelming challenges of avoiding scenarios that may cause them to be infected.
Others have even found themselves experiencing physical reactions to the stress, headaches, shortness of breath, panic attacks, while mistakenly attributing these to coronavirus symptoms. It’s important to know the difference between a panic attack and coronavirus symptoms – To find understand more about the difference, click: HERE
How Do You Manage Anxiety?
Still, those who aren’t prone to bouts of anxiety are now struggling with it, especially today. How can those who are becoming overwhelmed learn to manage their anxiety?
The World Health Organization has released information on how to deal with stress during the coronavirus outbreak:
- Avoid watching, reading or listening to news that could cause you to feel anxious or distressed.
- Seek information mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and your loved ones.
- Seek information updates at specific times.
- Think about switching off or limiting what you listen to, watch or read.
HealthGuide.org also has more information on how to protect yourself from overexposing yourself, resulting in heightened anxiety. Here is their advice:
Stay Informed—but Don’t Obsessively Check the News
It’s vital to stay informed, particularly about what’s happening in your community, so you can follow advised safety precautions and do your part to slow the spread of coronavirus. But there’s a lot of misinformation going around, as well as sensationalistic coverage that only feeds into fear. It’s important to be discerning about what you read and watch.
- Stick to trustworthy sources such as the CDC, the World Health Organization, and your local public health authorities.
- Limit how often you check for updates. Constant monitoring of news and social media feeds can quickly turn compulsive and counterproductive—fueling anxiety rather than easing it. The limit is different for everyone, so pay attention to how you’re feeling and adjust accordingly.
- Step away from media if you start feeling overwhelmed. If anxiety is an ongoing issue, consider limiting your media consumption to a specific time frame and time of day (e.g. thirty minutes each evening at 6 pm).
- Ask someone reliable to share important updates. If you’d feel better avoiding media entirely, ask someone you trust to pass along any major updates you need to know about.
- Be careful what you share. Do your best to verify the information before passing it on. Snopes’ Coronavirus Collection is one place to start. We all need to do our part to avoid spreading rumors and creating unnecessary panic.
A Danger to Those in Recovery
While we are all experiencing the emotional effects of dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic, there are those who are in severe danger that we should not overlook. Those who are in recovery for substance abuse are susceptible to relapsing. As the world is being instructed to keep their distance from others, the absence of support may serve as a trigger for those who are dealing with recovery.
Denny Kolsch, a licensed mental health counselor and Co-Founder/Clinical Director of Peace Club in Cocoa Beach Florida comments on this topic in an article from TheGuardian.com, giving insight into what recovering addicts are experiencing in this fragile times.
He commented on one person’s relapse on fentanyl and heroin after losing their new job when their workplace suddenly shuttered. He also mentioned that in every group therapy session over the last two weeks, the conversation has turned to COVID-19 – “Every single one of ’em,” Kolsch said. Also mentioned regarding our instructions to remain physically distant from others:
The message we’re receiving is stay away from people. Isolate. Don’t be around people, and [for] people that are in recovery, that’s like a recipe for disaster,
Sadly, the support groups that man who are in recovery rely upon are suspended, leaving a void in these individuals lives. The danger of relapse is all the more dangerous. This is why those who are struggling are encouraged to seek help. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, there is an abundance of online resources and tools available to those who are in need. The excessive downtime that we experience under stay at home orders can now be spent productively.
AA Meetings and Addiction Counseling Groups have moved to virtual meetings, and many organizations are using platforms like ZOOM to keep people connected. An article from CNBC.com elaborates more on the tools available, as well as those who are continuing to struggle with their condition during this pandemic.
What is a Coronavirus?
The Human Coronavirus refers to a family of viruses. The family of viruses ranges from the common cold to more serious respiratory illnesses. Many people throughout the years have been infected with common human coronaviruses usually experiencing mild to moderate upper respiratory illnesses (cdc.gov)
The age-old coronavirus has been able to spread from person to person as long as it has existed. Close personal contact, coughing, sneezing, and touching contaminated surfaces have all been common ways in which the coronavirus has spread. Seven coronaviruses have been known to affect humans. (healthiline.com) What is the COVID-19 Coronavirus?
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