Letter to the Editor: Re: Coronavirus Anxieties

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The major issue with the coronavirus epidemic is not so much the virus itself, but the anxiety about the uncertainty of the coronavirus.  Little is known about the treatments, diagnosis, extent of the virus etc. … causing extreme anxiety in our population.

The major cure, if you will, for anxiety, is not through breathing or medications which can help, but through the gaining of information.  The more somebody knows about something, the less anxious they are.  Humans prefer bad news rather than no news, because bad news allows you to at least to make a plan.

Once more is known about the parameters of the virus this will serve much to reduce the anxiety and increase planning, but dread will remain in our population from possibly catching the virus.

In seeking to reduce your anxiety, seek to get as much scientific, realistic information, as you can about the coronavirus before turning to other methods of anxiety management.  Get the facts, as I stated before, the information will help you.

There are information pages through the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention about the coronavirus outbreak.  Other things I recommend if you have small children, communicate with your children.  Discuss the news coverage with honest and age appropriate information.  You can help their distress by making sure they have a routine and a schedule.  Children will observe you as how you are coping and ask you how you manage your feelings.  I recommend limiting media coverage both for yourself and your children which can increase anxiety.

Also, I recommend keeping connected with your friends and family.  Social networks can really help provide a sense of normalcy and you can talk about your feelings.  If you are overwhelmed, please seek additional help.  Find people that can support you and help you, especially if you have overwhelming nervousness or feelings of depression.  Psychologists and other appropriate mental health professionals can provide strategies with dealing with these forms of stress.

By following the guidelines that have been laid out to us by medical personnel of social distancing, appropriate face and hand hygiene and staying as isolated as possible, hopefully we can stem the tide of this growing threat to our society.  America is a great country and when we work together the limits are endless as to what we can achieve.  Hoping that families and all individuals especially in New Jersey stay safe and healthy.

Ronald J. Coughlin, Ed.D.
New Jersey licensed psychologist