10 Minutes

By THE BALANCE
Fact checked

COVID-19 is a new and unfamiliar kind of coronavirus that spreads like an epidemic by an infectious SAR-CoV-2 virus. Most people who suffer from this disease recover after experiencing mild symptoms of respiratory illness, while others who are suffering from inferred medical risks like an acute respiratory ailment, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer; this virus results in severe illness, and in most cases, it proves fatal. 

The short-term effects of COVID range from fever, sore throat, cough, headache, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, loss of smell and taste, and shortness of breath. Aside from short-term impacts, this COVID also brings in many long-term repercussions that badly affect our mental health and social relations, and COVID anxiety is one of these long-term repercussions. 

The COVID anxiety has resulted from many depressing factors like changes in your daily routine, national and internationally imposed lockdowns, social isolation, financial crises, the uncertainty of life, and the stress of getting ill. During this COVID pandemic, other feelings, including stress, fear, loneliness, sadness, and depression, aggravate COVID anxiety.

It is a well-known fact that during the pandemic, a person can feel affected and experience high levels of anxiety. Later on, anxiety can cause other physical symptoms, including chest pain. For this reason, a person can be anxious about these symptoms fearing that he has COVID-19. 

Undoubtedly, during 18 months of the pandemic, there must be a particular time where you or someone you know felt anxious. Anxious about the massive number of COVID deaths and cases, doubtfulness about getting the vaccine, urgency, and impatience to get back to life. If you have experienced any of these indications, then you are suffering from COVID anxiety. It usually appears when you feel that nothing is under your control. 

Anxiety Attack Symptoms

We thought that COVID would end this summer, but here we are, still seeing deaths of many people and continuously increasing COVID cases. The following defines COVID-19 anxiety as:

  • Avoidance of public places more than required
  • Frequently checking symptoms of COVID
  • Obsessive cleaning
  • Other Abnormal Behaviors

Researchers have now developed a concern that obsessive stress and avoidance behaviors such as avoiding public transport and bleaching your home for hours will not decrease the risk of COVID-19 incident even if it is under control. 

Adverse End Results

Surveys show a significant increase in the number of U.S. adults who experience symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety during the COVID compared to the surveys before the pandemic. Many people increase the use of drugs or alcohol, thinking that such substances can help them cope with depression and anxiety. But in reality, the utilization of these substances can worsen depression and anxiety. People with substance use disorders, especially those addicted to opioids and tobacco, are more likely to have bad outcomes if they get COVID. 

There are many conditions of COVID anxiety. Some of them are:

  • Fear of contamination and harming others
  • Separation and relationship anxiety
  • Distressing, not avoiding, anxiety
  • Reappraising negative thoughts
  • Helplessness and crippling anxiety

Dr. Maclean said some of the psychological conditions experienced during the COVID are “stress, trauma-related disorders, anxiety, domestic violence, depression, substance abuse disorder, and even suicide. Right now it’s very critical that people acknowledge the stress of COVID.”

Some symptoms indicate the presence of COVID anxiety:

  • You find it difficult to think about anything other than COVID
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Your anxiety hinders your daily life_difficulty in going to the grocery or to work, even with low risk
  • You feel hopeless or embittered about the pandemic

Physical Symptoms

People with physical symptoms of COVID often screen positive for anxiety, as COVID symptoms often overlap with symptoms of anxiety. For example:

  • Poor sleep
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Impaired concentration
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling faint and dizzy
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Shaky limbs
  • Dry mouth
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling like bones are disassociating

Symptoms of COVID anxiety follow some other psychological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). For a doctor to make an authentic treatment, you should wait to monitor symptom development. However, antidepressants are prescribed for mood and anxiety disorders. Always remember that mild to moderate symptoms recover on their own after improving your lifestyle. If this is your first experience of anxiety, there is no need to go to a specialist. Such mild symptoms can be recovered with the help of medication, exercise, or yoga.

Professionals suggest that for some people, fear of getting COVID-19, the uncertainty throughout the COVID, and the stress of isolation can point towards the group of symptoms that make up COVID anxiety. They also suspect that “Big 5” personality attributes can play a role in its development, such as people with high levels of psychoneurosis can have greater chances of developing COVID anxiety. In contrast, those who are highly open, agreeable, and extroverted can have a lower risk. 

Symptoms and Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

In addition, people with OCD are also more at risk, as COVID-19 anxieties can amplify the condition. Experimenters suggest that many people (vaccinated or not) who constantly worry about COVID are at greater risk. 

Other Contributing Factors

Some other contributing factors that can lead to COVID anxiety are:

Media Coverage

COVID-19 has got broad media coverage from news outlets and social media. Nevertheless, information about how virus changes invariably can conclusively result in anxiety and mistrust among the public.

Use Of Fear To Increase Compliance

Professionals also advise that officials’ unintended use of fear to get surety about the compliance to safety precautions can develop stress and excessive worry in people. They argue that an excellent option to guarantee compliance without causing excessive anxiety is to promote successfulness and self-empowerment through knowledge. 

Low Threshold For Uncertainty

Someone’s tolerance of vagueness, vulnerability to COVID-19, and tendency to worry exceptionally can contribute to this unique phenomenon. Researchers also suggest that people who have a natural tendency towards hypochondria_a condition that forces a healthy person to believe that they are sick_can also play a role.

Some other causes include:

  • Fear of getting sick
  • Loss of community
  • Financial concerns (house security, unemployment)
  • Less access to caregivers
  • Trauma from an epidemic disease
  • Sadness from losing a loved one
  • Physical distancing and lack of socializing
  • Concern about infecting other people

Many surveys revealed a significant surge in the number of persons suffering from anxiety before and after COVID-19. There was a considerable increase in the adult population suffering from anxiety after the COVID-19 pandemic. So you should try to opt for maximum self-care strategies so that it does not harm you adversely, and you can get out of this COVID anxiety with minimum health loss. Given below self-care tips will help you and guide you to tackle COVID anxiety and leave behind its drastic impacts:

Eating Healthy Diet

You should try to take in a healthy, well-balanced, and wholesome diet and avoid eating junk food and refined sugar drinks. You should also limit the intake of caffeine because it is evident in intensifying your anxiety and stress.

Practicing Regular Physical Exercises

Daily exercise routine and physical activities do best in compressing COVID anxiety and improving your mood. These exercises like yoga and physical activities like dance take you away from your anxiety and stress feelings and help you connect with nature better. 

Getting Adequate Sleep

Sleep is one of the foremost things crucial for a sound mind because only a sound mind can think about healthy and positive thoughts, so you should make a serious effort to optimize your sleep habit. Try to go to your bed daily at the same time and set up a strict sleep schedule even if you are at home.

Staying Busy

During COVID, the idler you will be, the more frequently you will confront the COVID anxiety. So try to keep yourself busy in various tasks because these things will act as effective distractions for you and help distract your mind’s anxiety and healthy growth.

Positive Thinking

A positive mind leads to a healthy mind and ultimately to healthy thoughts. If you make an all-out effort to busy your brain in positive thinking, negative thoughts and anxiety will automatically go off your way. It will let you make sense of hope and embrace the changes occurring in the surrounding environment.

Limiting Exposure To News Media

Sitting all the time and focusing on the COVID news can heighten up your anxiety and stress levels. Limit the time you spend on your social media to avoid different rumors about COVID-19 and only trust the information from reliable sources like U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) and World Health Organization(WHO).

Making Connections

The one thing that will help you best make up your strength and courage during your COVID anxiety is your sincere and supportive connections. If you are asked to stay at home and keep your distance from others, you can avoid social isolation by talking with your dear ones through text, email, phone, facetime, and other apps.

Long-term negligence to your COVID anxiety can worsen your mental health condition and indulge you in unavoidable health problems. You should try to take suitable and effective measures on early-stage. If situations worsen, you should look forward to consulting with your therapist or doctors to select the best possible treatment.

The best treatment option for COVID anxiety is:

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used worldwide to treat anxiety disorders. It is also effective in curing many other psychological conditions such as panic attacks and depression. It works to stop negative or anxious feelings that COVID usually causes. Such emotions include the weird feelings of being jobless and remaining isolated from other people. By making your problems manageable, cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you change your negative thoughts and improve your feelings. 

Other options include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines 
  • Antianxiety medications 
  • Beta-blockers (to help reduce physical symptoms of COVID anxiety)

Probably, medication and therapy can be expensive; thus, there are some low-cost alternatives. The following can help you to relieve COVID anxiety in your available income

Therapy

Some therapists offer treatment on a flexible scale. It means that they can cost according to a person’s income. Patients call the therapists to find about the payment options. Some colleges and universities also offer low-cost therapy. Although, remember that these therapy sessions cannot always be available to the public.

There are three tips from therapists for calming your COVID anxiety:

  • Try to Structure your time
  • Try a news break
  • Try to make thoughts chart

Medications

Some pharmaceutical companies provide budget-oriented programs to those who do not have insurance. An important note is that generic medicines cost less than branded medicines. Patients can ask a doctor to write the medicines so that they can get generic medication.

Medicaid

Another option is Medicaid. It is a social protection program or social welfare that covers the cost of COVID-19 anxiety treatments.

Researchers have shown that COVID anxiety more significantly develops even after recovery in people diagnosed with COVID and, in many cases, contributes to mood disorders. If you are confronting a high level of COVID anxiety and thinking that it will cure on its own, then you should remember that it can prove harmful and contribute to several health complications. 

So side by side putting your self-efforts, you should also endeavor to take some medications and therapies. You can keep yourself informed and reassure and support yourself by making an intelligent choice regarding what information you need to know and leaving behind false and stressful information. 

Symptoms of COVID anxiety range in a huge variety and differ from person to person because all the necessary data about COVID-19 has not been discovered yet. So you should cautiously analyze your symptoms and all other indication to point out whether you are suffering from COVID anxiety and then take relevant measures accordingly.

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