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The outbreak of infectious diseases, like the current coronavirus (COVID-19) global health pandemic, can be a tremendous additional stress on people and communities. Fear, anxiety, and paranoia toward the coronavirus outbreak in the United States can be overwhelming and even detrimentally affect the mental health of adults, adolescents, and children.
According to the CDC website, common reactions during an epidemic include:
It’s common to feel vulnerable when faced with news about the virus spread, mortality rate, and coronavirus cases. Individuals who may respond more strongly to the stress of the coronavirus outbreak include:
Rumors and speculation about the new coronavirus fuel fear and paranoia. Staying informed with reliable information about the current number of cases in the U.S., rate of community spread, and how to identify the influenza-like symptoms can help you feel in control and share accurate information with others.
You can find the latest information, announcements, situation reports, and further details on the coronavirus disease through reputable sources such as:
During the outbreak, it’s essential to keep in mind that COVID-19 can make anyone sick. Avoid judging people and don’t assume who is responsible for the disease spread. The coronavirus can affect everyone regardless of gender, sex, age, nationality, race and ethnicity.
Many people can experience mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety when faced with social isolation. Staying connected to your support system can be helpful during times of stress. Stay connected with family members and your community, or consider contacting a helpline or therapist for mental health support. Many therapists are providing online therapy for those who are in self-quarantine.
In addition to staying connected, you can support yourself by:
Practicing hygiene and social distancing precautions can also help minimize the spread of the coronavirus and provide peace of mind:
Seek medical attention if you display flu-like symptoms, such as shortness of breath, runny nose, and sore throat—regardless of their severity—and if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with a COVID-19 outbreak. Call in advance before seeking medical care, and tell your doctor about your recent travel and flu-like symptoms.
If you’re experiencing flu-like or respiratory symptoms, your healthcare provider may ask you to take preventive measures, such as self-quarantine, to protect public health. During self-quarantine, staying connected with friends and family members on social media and creating a daily routine that prioritizes self-care and nourishment can help you protect your mental health.
It is normal to feel a regression in your mental health in times of stress. If you have a preexisting mental health condition it is important to prioritize self-care during the coronavirus outbreak. Individuals with preexisting psychiatric illnesses should continue their specific treatment plans during the COVID-19 outbreak and monitor for new mental health symptoms.
If you’re experiencing constant, intense feelings of stress and anxiety or new or worsening depression that interfere with your daily life, contact your mental health provider. Additionally, if you experience new or worsening suicidal thoughts please call 911, or contact the national suicide hotline.
To find a mental health provider, consider using With Therapy’s unique matchmaking tool. In addition to particular areas of expertise, With Therapy can help you find a mental health provider who matches your preferred gender, race, sexual orientation, education, background, or other desired criteria.
Stress and anxiety related to the COVID-19 epidemic are understandable. Although reaching out for help can feel daunting, an experienced therapist can help support you and provide tools for managing this stressful situation.