Are you feeling the Coronavirus apocalypse?
Are you overstocking supplies? Disinfecting food you digest? Burning elevator buttons with chlorine to disinfect them? And even dumping your own beloved family pet for fear of COVID-19? In spite of the fact that up-to-date health authorities state that we cannot get infected through digesting the virus or through our pets, let’s admit it, we are just freaking out.
It is understandable that it feels like the end of the world especially for the suffers of illness anxiety disorder (IAD), formerly known as hypochondriacs; those who are sick because they are so anxious about getting an illness .The believers that every mild headache is a brain tumor and every stomach ache is colon cancer and with Coronavirus, every cough or mild tiredness is the highway for a COVID-19 death. Even in the absence of any physical symptoms, IAD makes some people feel doomed with an illness no matter what. Sadly, this kind of anxiety is not even relieved by a doctor’s assurance. Just a draining cycle of negative thoughts and psychological responses.
Consider the state of the info-demic we are suffering, caused by the huge amount of confusing and repetitive information bombarding us from all directions. From social media to TV and WhatsApp forwards. IAD patients are seriously anxious about contracting the virus.
Anyone is at risk of IAD, young and old. The diagnosis comes with at least a duration of 6 months of overloading fear of having or developing a serious disease, even in the absence of physical symptoms or the presence of mild forms. Constantly checking for different signs of illness along with abuse or neglect of medical care, hypochondriacs don’t believe doctors’ reassurances and their worst enemy is to be told, “It’s all in your head”.
Other than the financial burden caused by IAD caused by excessive spending on medical care, the disorder can severely affect the functional life of the patient, affecting the family and professional life. Ignored IAD can be overwhelming to some people, forcing them to develop suicidal thoughts.
A study in China aimed to assess the population’s mental health burden during the epidemic, showed that nearly 1 in 5 participants had depressive symptoms and sleep problems, probably related to worry about being infected and feared that the epidemic was hard to control. The impact of COVID-19 on our mental health and stress level is hard to notice.
It is time to understand the real impact of communicating or manipulating data on COVID-19. The impact of these actions can be overwhelming, especially to IAD patients.
It’s critical that we all adapt a health routine to overcome any hurdles created by anxiety over COVID-19 or by the current unprecedented homestay. It’s paramount that we focus on what we can control.
- Follow the precaution of physical distancing, handwashing, cough etiquette and disinfecting.
- Don’t get distracted by all the social media buzz. Find a reliable source like WHO or local public health authorities to stay informed.
- Eat healthy, stay active, stay connected with family and friends.
- Stay mentally healthy. Find time to relax, develop a new skill or polish an existing one.
- Seek healthcare or professional support if you feel your fear and anxiety is uncontrollable.
We understand that our normal life has been temporarily suspended and that it is a bit scary. But please remember that people react to fear differently. Let’s try to slowdown and enjoy the family moments and the pause from our fast-paced life. Because, as we know, excessive anxiety about getting sick can be an illness.