Addressing anxiety about the coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to evolve with ongoing media coverage, many people are experiencing anxiety due to the uncertainty about how this will impact them. They are worried about the impact to their communities, how they can protect themselves and their families, and how to be prepared if the situation disrupts the normal course of daily life.

It is normal to feel anxious, unsettled, distracted, scared and/or overwhelmed by COVID-19 and the uncertainty surrounding its impact to communities. Some people may be more vulnerable due to pre-existing physical and mental health conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder.

Feeling stressed can affect the immune system and increase the risk of getting ill in general. That is why it is important to take steps to manage anxiety and reactions to this evolving situation. The following suggestions can help people manage anxiety and stress for themselves and their families:

  1. Seek health information from trusted resources like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), The World Health Organization and state health department websites.
  2. Plan ahead to feel more in control. Make contingency plans for work, childcare or travel if it becomes necessary.
  3. Wash hands often, get plenty of rest, exercise, eat well, don’t smoke and limit alcohol consumption.
  4. Put things into perspective:
    1. Of the 80,000 confirmed coronavirus cases reported in China, “more than 70% have recovered and been discharged,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO) in a news conference on Monday.1
    2. Per the CDC, only certain groups, such as older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions, are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.2
    3. Public health officials are working to mitigate the virus’ spread.
  5. Limit exposure to media. Media outlets have a tendency to sensationalize stories, so it’s important to consume news thoughtfully and with a critical eye.

Magellan Healthcare has resources to help people during crises and difficult times. Our Crisis Communications website provides topical information and connects people with U.S. resources, and our Mind Your Mental Health site addresses many topics related to emotional well-being.

1: https://www.cnn.com/asia/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-03-09-20-intl-hnk/index.html, “More than 70% of coronavirus cases in China have recovered, WHO says,” posted 3/9/20, 7:25 p.m. EDT, Jacqueline Howard, accessed from site 3/10/20, 12:57 p.m. EDT.

2: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html#who-is-higher-risk, accessed 3/10/20, 12:34 p.m. EDT.

Disclaimer: The content in this blog article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. For questions regarding any medical condition or if you need medical advice, please contact your healthcare provider.

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