There have been endless predictions about mental health and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The anticipated need to develop new therapy services for ‘PTSD’ post-traumatic stress disorder, for suicide prevention and for prolonged grief, have been the topic for much in the media.
But there is something missing and an area that is the talking point of at least one consultation per week in my clinic “Covid-19 Anxiety”.
Anxiety as a result of external future based theoretical events is a relatively new concept and roots from the condition called hypochondriasis (we all know at least one person who we would call a hypochondriac… always having the latest trending symptoms – usually to gain significance or attention via negative means).
The reason why Covid-19 Anxiety has been separately identified is that, it is primarily an anxious disorder, whereas hypochondriasis covers a much larger range, including significant depression and even psychotic symptoms such as delusions.
People with pathological anxiety have excessive fear of getting, or having, a disease, however as we all know in the health professions, anxiety itself leads to psychological and bodily symptoms that, are on many occasions misinterpreted as evidence of organic illness. Something I covered in the previous articles.
This is where COVID-19 Anxiety differs from ordinary anxiety
At present it is probably justified and so cannot be regarded as pathological. For example, if you have cold or flu like symptoms, it is perfectly reasonable for you to attribute them to coronavirus infection or at least question it.
It was just the other week; I woke with chest pains (previously had pneumonia and pleurisy so always wary) felt fine in myself, my first thought went to ‘COVID’, my second to the chest gym session I did the previous day. Under normal circumstances Covid-19 wouldn’t have been a consideration, therefore my thought process was perfectly reasonable.
COVID-19 is not going anywhere any time soon. There will be a long period, in which there will still be the danger of infection, and this is when pathological COVID anxiety will occur.
Every symptom, no matter how small, will be given sinister significance, I might add with justification!
Within the next few years it is likely that we will, at the current rate of infection, lose several people known to us.
In typical anxiety, sufferers become their own monitors of health, but as they are never convinced that they are doing the job properly, they also need reassurance from relatives, friends, and often will visit the doctor for validation.
Covid-19 is slightly different as there are still questions about the accuracy of tests, this accuracy question at a public scale, fails to remove the fears and offers lacking confidence in the system, resulting in severe anxiety.
Those susceptible to suffering are likely to become abnormally avoidant, continuing to isolate and practise repeated hand washing, checking their body temperatures, respiratory function, and even testing their ability to smell over and over again – EXCESSIVELY.
What can be done to reduce COVID-19 Anxiety?
One of the strong drivers of health anxiety is cyberchondria, the influence of the Internet and social media in promoting fears about illness. Limit yourself to just a few minutes per day to read the news or actively scroll social media.
Have a daily plan that offers a future based benefit that takes into consideration health awareness and implementation, personal nutritional advancement and an unlimited physical peek.
Maybe check out an Ironman Triathlon near you and set some 2022 intentions - https://www.ironman.com/races
This triathlon distance requires a 2.4 mile swim (3.9K), 112 mile bike (180.2K), and 26.2 mile run (42.2K) to be completed within 17hrs.
For more information or help on Covid-19 Anxiety related therapies why not book a one to one session with me Benjamin Bonetti.
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