Corona Virus/Covid-19 Anxiety
The most common problem that I deal with in private practice is Anxiety.
And it is a subject that I often write about. Currently there is almost a form of mass anxiety going on about the Corona Virus. And this is hitting people who are naturally anxious worst!
With the current health risk, let us look at how psychology is at work in the current Corona Virus situation creating anxiety and near panic.
Nowadays a big problem is that the news and our sources of news are big business. And those sources know that human psychology means that our attention is grabbed more by bad news than good news. This is evolutionary, we are wired to watch out for danger. If we focus on the negative, we are more likely to be more careful and survive. And so, most news nowadays is not only negative, but it is presented in the most dangerous/sensational way possible, to catch our eye. Look at the dramatic language that is used nowadays, even to just describe the weather!
They also know that what frightens us most is the unknown. How many times have we heard now: "This is a new virus and we don't know?"
The reason the unknown affects us so badly is that there are two types of Anxiety. "Real Time Anxiety", where we are in a known dangerous situation and feel scared and for good reason. And "Anticipatory Anxiety", which is by far the most common type in a modern first world country, where we are anxious about what MIGHT or COULD happen. We keep thinking What if?
Without knowledge, our imagination takes over. Because, another negative thing our psychology is wired to do is to think of the worst possible outcome first! Again, this is part of our survival evolution, if our brain considers the worst then we are ready for anything in between.
So the thing to do to ease anxiety is to find out the facts. Do not just listen to the headlines. Listen to the medical and biological experts. This is not always easy to do and even when we’ve got the facts, another bit of psychology affects us.
One of the first psychologists ever, a French pharmacist called Emile Coue who lived about 100 years ago, rightly observed that, When emotions are in conflict with logic and reason, emotions always win. Anxiety is an emotion, a form of fear. And when people have already been frightened by the news, this fear can over-ride logic and the facts. It is even hard for the experts to get their message across through the fog of fear created by the sensationalism of the information in the news.
For example, the experts have told us that face masks are next to useless as protection, yet the shops are sold out of them. Good hand washing with soap and warm water is as good as chemical hand sanitisers, yet again sanitisers are sold out. People are ignoring these facts because they are already overcome by anxiety and are panicking.
There are dangers, but if you are anxious, try to read beyond the dramatic language of t.v., radio and newspapers. In this day of the internet, up to date expert information is available instantly. Knowledge is power.
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My practices are in South William St., Dublin 2 and in Perrystown, Dublin