The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people a great deal of anxiety, and understandably so. From lockdowns and economic instability to dealing with personal cases of sickness, COVID-19 has dramatically impacted all of our lives and set off feelings of nervousness and fear.
For some, the anxiety is so severe that it interferes with their daily life. If you think you may be struggling with COVID-19-related anxiety, know that you’re not alone, and that help is available. This article will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatments for COVID-19 anxiety. We hope this information will provide some relief and guidance during this difficult time.
Causes of Pandemic Anxiety
There are several reasons why COVID-19 may trigger feelings of anxiety, nervousness, or fear. Here are a few of the most common ones.
The pandemic has left many things in a precarious position, and many people may be feeling a new sense of uncertainty as a result. You may feel unsure about questions like:
- Will there be more waves of infections?
- How long will this last?
- What will happen to my job or my business?
- What if another lockdown or supply shortage occurs? Will I be prepared?
- What will the long-term effects of the pandemic be?
Loss of Control
Because of how unpredictable and unknown the virus and its consequences have been, you may feel a new loss of control in your life. You may feel nervous about not being able to control:
- Whether or not you or your loved ones get sick
- The severity of symptoms you or your loved ones may experience
- Your work situation
- Your ability to access essential supplies like food and medications
Isolation and Loneliness
Finally, the pandemic’s indirect mental health effect has been increased feelings of isolation and loneliness due to extended lockdowns. Loneliness has long been associated with decreased mental health. It may be challenging to cope with being physically separated from friends, loved ones, or even acquaintances you normally see.
Symptoms of Pandemic Anxiety
The symptoms of pandemic anxiety can vary from person to person. Some may be feeling persistent anxiety for the first time, while others who already have anxiety disorders may feel an increase or change in their symptoms due to COVID-19. Some may feel a generalized sense of anxiety, while others develop anxieties that are specific to COVID-19.
Some general anxiety symptoms you may feel include:
- Persistent worry or fear, even when it’s illogical
- Restlessness or feeling on-edge
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Unexplained headaches, stomachaches, muscle aches, or other pains
While some more COVID-19-specific anxiety symptoms you may experience include:
- Ongoing focus on COVID-19, to the point where it’s difficult to think about anything else.
- Extreme self-isolation due to fear of contracting the virus, even when it’s not necessary.
- Overwhelming feelings of hopelessness or bitterness about the pandemic.
- Extreme fear that small things happening to your body are symptoms of COVID-19.
Taken to an extreme, these symptoms may even be considered their own disorder, known as an illness anxiety disorder.
Regardless of what your particular symptoms are, if your anxiety is starting to interfere with your daily life, there are several treatments that may help.
Disengaging From Triggers
One of the first steps you can take to ease your anxiety is to try and limit your exposure to things that trigger or exacerbate it. This may mean:
- Unsubscribing from COVID-19 news alerts and staying away from publications that frequently report on it.
- Staying away from social media or anywhere else where you might see people talking catastrophically about COVID-19 and its effects.
- Avoiding risky or unsafe situations and following safety protocols, such as wearing a mask indoors and using hand sanitizer.
Identifying and Challenging Negative Thoughts
Anxiety can often be perpetuated by negative thinking patterns. If you find yourself catastrophizing or fixating on the worst possible outcome, try and take a step back and challenge those thoughts.
- What’s the evidence for this thought?
- Is there another way to look at this situation?
- What are the chances that this thought will actually come true?
For example, you may follow safety protocols but still be overly concerned about catching COVID-19. You may think things like, “I wore a mask at the grocery store, but what if it wasn’t enough? What if there’s a new, more powerful strain that can go through masks? Or what if I get infected because there’s a small gap in my mask’s coverage?”
Thoughts like these can quickly snowball into panic, so it’s important to try to approach them logically before they get out of hand. In this example, you may comfort yourself in knowing that you did everything in your power to prevent getting infected, and realistically, infection is unlikely.
By doing this, you may be able to reduce the power that your anxiety has over you.
Traditional Treatments: Therapy and Medication
If your anxiety is proving to be difficult to manage on your own, professional treatments like therapy and medication may be necessary.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that’s often used to treat anxiety. It works by helping you identify and change negative thinking patterns and behaviors that contribute to anxiety.
Medications like SSRIs, benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers may also be effective against anxiety, both when used alone and when used in conjunction with therapy.
Alternative Treatment With Ketamine
If you’ve tried all of the above treatments and still haven’t found relief, ketamine may be an option to explore. Ketamine is an anesthetic, but it also has powerful antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.
A number of studies have shown that ketamine can effectively treat anxiety disorders like PTSD, social anxiety disorder, and OCD. It is also effective in treating depression, which is often comorbid with anxiety.
Ketamine treatments are also much more fast-acting than traditional treatments. While regular psychiatric medications may take weeks to kick in and months to fully affect someone, ketamine can significantly alleviate symptoms of anxiety within just two to three rounds of treatment.
If you’re interested in exploring ketamine as a treatment for your anxiety, consider booking a consultation with Nova Health Recovery. We offer ketamine treatments for a broad spectrum of anxiety symptoms as well as other treatment options.