Coronavirus creating a panic?

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The entire world has been taken down by the coronavirus. Almost every nation is talking about it. The internet is on fire with news, articles, and information about the coronavirus. It’s all people around you are talking about. And in times like these, we get into the ‘survival mode’ and it is on us that we bring ourselves back to the ‘living mode’.

The virus is potentially life-threatening and its uncertainty has caused people be in panic and anxious. Now, if you find yourself panicking a little or feeling overwhelmed at the thought of COVID-19, you are not the only one, it’s happening to us all.

“For everything that we don’t know about COVID-19, there’s a lot that we do know,” says Dr Jyothirmayi Kotipalli, Consultant Psychiatrist. “Coronaviruses are a special class of cold viruses – and the good news here is that we know how to manage people with respiratory viruses.”

Dr Jyothirmayi suggests considering the following for easing the fear and anxiety around COVID-19

  • Doctors are trained professionals in managing illnesses. They know what to do.
  • You must be precautious and take steps to protect yourself and others.

“Healthcare providers and hospitals are working hard to respond to the spread of COVID-19,” says Dr Jyothirmayi . “It’s important to understand that managing viral respiratory illnesses is not new in the medical community. We continuously prepare for outbreaks like this. Guidelines are in place and they’re updated as new information becomes available. And when it comes to yourself – you should know what to do to avoid getting sick because it’s the same as protecting yourself against influenza and lots of other infections. Wash your hands, use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose, don’t touch your face, avoid those who are sick, avoid crowds and stay home if you’re not feeling well.”

“While this virus is unpredictable and the situation continues to evolve, focus on what you can control. It’s only human to go through a range of emotions as we learn more about COVID-19” says Dr Jyothirmayi.

You might experience:

  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anger, anxiety, worry, and panic
  • Being overly sensitive about your health and body
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Fear of people who are coughing or appear sick
  • Social withdrawal

Managing anxiety about coronavirus

Doctor suggests a few tips to help you deal with the situation.

Get your facts straight: Do not believe everything you read on the internet, especially the comments, WhatsApp messages, and articles being shared on the internet. Before sharing any information on social media, check its authenticity. Make sure you are getting the information from genuine and credible sources. Relay on credible news channels. Don’t have your phone as the source of information and news and everything forwarded to you isn’t completely true. You need to be careful when it comes to the intake of information during such crucial times.

Talk to friends and family: Talk to your friends and family. Check on them whenever possible. Make calls and video calls. Ask them about their well-being and how’s everything around them, ask them if they need any help. Talking to your loved ones during such hard times will not help you calm yourself, but will also help them. Share some positivity, make sure you have something good to talk about, so that you can let go of the anxiety of the coronavirus for some time.

Keep things in perspective: It is important to keep yourself informed about COVID-19, but if you find yourself panicking, take a break from the social media and the other mediums of media coverage that are full of the COVID-19 news. Change the topic of conversation if talking about it is upsetting you. You cannot control the outcomes of the virus, but you can control how it affects you. Focus on what you can control.

Be mindful and self-aware: Although caution and preventive measures are extremely important right now, that does not mean you need to panic every time you see someone around you coughing. Not everyone has been exposed to the coronavirus, you must be mindful and self-aware, it’ll help in easing this public anxiety and panic. If petty changes in your health is concerning you, instead of jumping to a conclusion, or doing a google search about the symptoms, contact your doctor and let him/her decide if you should be really worried. Do not use and prophylactic medication or non-allopathic medicines without consulting a doctor. Please try not to rush to the hospitals for minor chronic issues that can be resolved with a call or postponed.

Apart from that, show some empathy to the victims and their families rather than blaming them. This is not in anybody’s hands and it isn’t anybody's fault. You must be empathetic towards others. Everybody is in this together and if we help each other, we can get out of this, safe and quick.

Try to keep some normalcy: Dealing with this lockdown situation can be difficult, plus this “social distancing” is getting kind of hard to cope with. Therefore, it is important to try to maintain some sort of routine, it makes people feel safe, especially children. Try to keep your normal sleep and mealtimes, and do more activities that make you feel happy. Read new books that you’ve been wanting to for long, learn a new language, get a new hobby - keep yourself busy and be productive.

Exercise: Even an hour of simple exercises at home will help you deal with the stress. It will increase your endogenous endorphins and decrease stress levels and anxiety.

If you notice that no matter how much you try or what you do, you still can’t stop feeling anxious; seek help from mental health professionals. They can help you identify the triggers and help you figure a way out to deal with it.

And finally there's fear of losing jobs/career changes too at this point of time. Remind yourself that a job loss doesn't mean you are a failure. Be thankful that you are still healthy to find a more deserving role you need.

D Jyothirmayi Kotipalli
Consultant Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of the organization.

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