The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is enough to make almost everyone anxious. With people stocking up on food supplies leaving entire grocery shelves empty, hand soap and sanitizers hard to come by, and common toiletries becoming very valuable commodities, it’s no wonder society’s post-apocalyptic approach is making everyone feel more anxious. Just imagine how the 19% of us diagnosed with anxiety feel!
As someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), this coronavirus has put my anxious tendencies into overdrive. It’s not just the fear of contracting the virus that’s impeding my life. It’s also the presence of hand sanitizer everywhere.
Almost 16% of people who have OCD deal with compulsive hand washing. With the news telling you to lather up, and hand sanitizer stations popping up everywhere, it’s dredging up a lot of issues from deep within. Here’s why.
Why the Coronavirus Can Cause Anxiety
We all have coronavirus on our minds. It’s littering our social media feeds, overtaking the airwaves, and banning us from local hotspots and our usual routines. Reports of growing death tolls, stats about cases in the area, and press releases about businesses closing are enough to make anyone’s head spin.
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the hysteria. Before you know it, the coronavirus has consumed your thoughts all day long. The problem is, having continuous thoughts about stressful subject matters is a recipe for increased anxiety.
PTSD and Coronavirus
Anxiety triggers can do more than just rile up someone with OCD. They can also have a profound effect on people who have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some people may have already fought for their lives during other pandemics, such as Ebola and SARS. An event like COVID-19 can conjure up horrible memories that they were trying to forget.
You don’t need to survive past pandemics to have this coronavirus trigger your PTSD. Anyone who has lived through any type of trauma may struggle in times of adversity. With something as uncertain as a novel coronavirus, it’s easy for those with PTSD to feel their lives are in jeopardy. This heavy burden hanging overhead is a significant factor in developing anxious behavior.
Panic Attacks and Coronavirus
For many of us with OCD and other mental health issues, panic attacks are part of the package. Coronavirus anxiety is surely accelerating these issues. The fear of surrounding us in this pandemic is undoubtedly panic-inducing.
The risk of getting sick isn’t the only reason why this coronavirus may cause increased panic attacks. Lots of people who suffer from panic attacks experience these bouts in public spaces. Now, we’re being told to avoid areas where people congregate.
On a subconscious level, the coronavirus may be instilling our fears of acclimating with society deeper into our fabric. The idea of a coronavirus already had us social distancing before it was cool. Now that everyone else is scared, isolation may carry over long after the pandemic settles down.
Hypochondria and Coronavirus
Ken Goodman, a board member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, told the Washington Post, “When people suffer with anxiety, it’s because they’re believing and focusing on the lies, distortions and exaggerations in their imagination.” All of that sounds like the criteria for hypochondria.
A novel coronavirus with no cure can make those who are afraid of getting ill even more anxious. This situation is literally presenting them with their greatest fear. Naturally, in times like these, a person with hypochondria will think any passing body ache is the sign of a fever or a tickle in the throat is the precursor to a nagging cough, or worse.
During this time, someone with hypochondria may show signs of something I’m more familiar with, OCD. Hypochondriacs often feel an urgent need to keep up to date with the latest coronavirus news. That way, they can continue their self-diagnosis.
Therefore, those with hypochondria obsessively and compulsively refresh feeds and consume news articles. In turn, their imagination starts running wild again. Like a hamster on a wheel, these reactions set forth a cycle of anxious behavior.
How to Manage Anxiety During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Whether you have OCD, PTSD, panic attacks, or hypochondria, there is one common symptom that will be triggered during this coronavirus scare—anxiety. Furthermore, people who never experienced anxiety before might develop frequent bouts during these uncertain times.
No matter where you are on this spectrum, we’re in this together. Here are a few things I’m doing to help with my OCD-induced anxiety. Perhaps they can help you, too.
Social Distancing While Maintaining a Schedule
The most significant impact this coronavirus situation has had on my life is through social distancing. It’s a different experience not going to work every day or hanging out with my friends. These sudden and extreme changes to our lifestyle can be really hard on our mental state. Therefore, we can be more prone to developing anxious behaviors.
For the health of everyone involved, it’s essential to socially distance yourself. We need to allow enough time to pass for this coronavirus pandemic to come to an end. By always being in close quarters with one another, we’re giving the virus more outlets to survive.
Seeing as the coronavirus has changed such a large portion of our daily lives, it’s crucial to find as much normalcy as possible. Stick with your routine as much as you can. If you work at 8 a.m. and are now telecommuting, you should still get up and start work at 8 a.m. If you normally go to a 6 p.m yoga class, dedicate that time to an at-home yoga video or stream it on your TV or computer. Maintain your sanity by maintaining your schedule.
Cure the Boredom
Anxiety is my brain’s default mode. When my obsessive-compulsive mind isn’t fixating on one thing, it goes right back to doom and gloom. So, the best way to fix that problem is to remain distracted.
If you can’t hang out with your friends in person, FaceTime or call them. Catch up with them digitally and talk about happier memories. Vent with them about your anxieties. Do whatever you would do if you were hanging out. Your family and friends are your support system (and the ultimate cure to boredom). Make sure you spend time with them.
Also, use this time to tap into your passions. Read a book you’ve been meaning to get to, start looking at enrollment for online classes or try making new recipes. Social isolation doesn’t need to seem like a punishment. It can actually be a reward that can help you get back to you.
Stay Away from the News
It’s good to know what’s going on. However, you shouldn’t overwhelm yourself with the news. You have to remember; the news is a TV show. Society is the cast. They’re manipulating the headlines to get you as invested as possible. That way, you get hooked.
Pick a couple of news sources you can trust, like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or National Public Radio (NPR). They generally stick to the facts. From there, you can draw your own conclusions.
Either way, don’t make a habit of checking out coronavirus news every time you sit down at a computer or phone. Not much is going to change statistically in such a short period of time. However, writers can do a lot with words. Even if there are no significant developments, they can still keep you hooked on listening and reading. In turn, this will make you more anxious.
While it’s important to stick to your routine, that doesn’t mean you can’t add to it. One of the most effective ways of handling my coronavirus anxiety is doing just that. I’m finding a lot of clarity with Tranquility Labs’ Tranquilene.
Tranquilene is formulated with botanicals and all-natural ingredients that promote the production of hormones, such as GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. These are all neurotransmitters that help counteract the adverse effects caused by our stress hormones.
Besides having GABA in the formula, Tranquilene also contains L-theanine. This amino acid is a building block for both GABA and dopamine. Studies of L-theanine found that those who use it can feel relaxed as soon as within 15 minutes.
Furthermore, Tranquilene is enriched with vitamin D3, B-vitamins, and tryptophan. All of these nutrients play an essential role in the production of serotonin, our joy molecule. So, using Tranquilene helps me feel more relaxed during this pandemic.
Has the coronavirus pandemic triggered any of your anxiety issues? How are you coping? Share with us in the comments below!