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Health Team

Experts: Simple, daily care can keep coronavirus anxiety in check

Posted April 9, 2020 6:14 p.m. EDT
Updated April 9, 2020 6:23 p.m. EDT

With the numbers rising daily – of coronavirus cases, of the dead – the emotional toll of sustained bad news can be a burden that gets too heavy to bear. Mental health professionals say anxiety and sadness are common, even normal and expected, given the coronavirus crisis' impact on daily life, incomes and health.

The sudden decline in social interactions and in jobs and the uncertainty about the future add another layer of worry.

"If you’re not feeling unsettled and worried and sort of projecting into the future right now, then, I don’t want to be trite about it, then you’re not paying attention," said Dr. Timothy J. Strauman, a Duke University professor of psychology and neuroscience.

Mental health professionals suggest simple coping methods like keeping to a daily routine, practicing self-care and using technology to breakthrough feelings of isolation.

"Social distancing is not social connection. Stay connected with people. This is something we can control," advises Dr. Yan Li.

Dr. Terrie Moffitt says there can be positives that come out of such a trying situation.

"It can slow down our lives and give us a sense of shared purpose. It can provide an opportunity to practice helping others. All these things are good for our mental health," she said.

Another thing the experts pointed out is that, as isolating as it may feel to be alone, it is actually something North Carolinians are all experiencing together. So there is some solidarity in that.

For some, going to a counselor or psychologist can help. Dr. Barbara Lowe has been seeing patients virtually while they are staying at home.

"Anxiety has been rising," Lowe said. "What we’re finding is whatever was there, below the surface, is kind of coming up."

She says that, when emotions get to the point where a person cannot function or get work done, it is time to seek professional help.

"I stand before you as someone who has experienced tremendous recovery, unashamed, and I do this for a living. There’s nothing wrong with getting help," she said.

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