Fear and tension of the Coronavirus are overgrowing within people’s lives as it has been notably reflected on the market, newscasts, social media, group chats, and more. Many people are frightened and incapable of accepting this rapid growth in the number of people afflicted with the Coronavirus, not to mention the world’s inability to provide the vaccine and the treatment for this epidemic until this moment.
Although fear is an emotion that we are exposed to as individuals in our daily lives; it is also a social emotion that spread among people and societies and constitutes our reactions towards the current events. Fear, like other emotions, can be contagious, spreading rapidly among individuals, to aggravate events and drive undesirable outcomes.
There are some published news and articles since mid-January related to the pandemic that deliberately mentioned the word “fear” or “panic” and its relationship to the Coronavirus.
Those news and reports have described it as a murderer or a lethal, which evokes the general fear among the public rather than providing them with sound facts and information or educating them on how to deal with the situation.
The reason for this fear, which may reach to the point of panic, is our mental response to dangerous situations by releasing the hormone adrenaline and cortisol, which are responsible for psychological pressure, stress, and the reaction of a fight-or-flight response in humans.
In addition to that, it increases the percentage of focus and attention to any potential threat to which people may be exposed in all its forms. This focus is crucial in times of crisis and risk, but if the fear is not directed at a valid target, it may turn into a state of panic. Fear may extend to the details of our daily lives, as a result of which we make many wrong decisions and adopt many incorrect perceptions based solely on our fears. It is predictable that this would happen in our interconnected world today, where the degree of risk is mixed with everything that is published on social media pages, news bulletins, newspapers, and others that do not investigate accuracy and credibility, so they stimulate our minds to reinforce fear, panic, and the inability to take right actions. In fact, we need to learn to remain calm in the face of fear and to think appropriately to preserve our mental and physical health.
There are four crucial steps to deal with the Coronavirus anxiety:
Limit yourself from reading, watching, or hearing news related to the Coronavirus, such as the number of infections, deaths, and prevalence rates to avoid stress and fear. This applies as well to avoid participating in the family or social media conversations related to this topic.
Read, watch, or listen to precautionary measures that will help you in how to protect yourself and protect those around you against the Coronavirus.
Strictly adhere to the preventive measures stipulated by the World Health Organization, such as staying at home at all times except for extreme necessity; avoiding gatherings, social events, and crowded place; maintaining physical spacing (i.e., safe distance with the people you speak or sit with); and the proper use of sterilizers and masks; eating healthy food; exercising.
Engage yourself with useful tasks, for instance, practicing your favorite hobbies such as reading, exercising, drawing, etc.
In conclusion, the fundamental factor to confront this epidemic is the reliable facts and information published by the official media channels and not being driven by rumors, fake news, and misleading social media messages that increase our fear and panic and affect our mental health negatively. All of this will help us in obtaining a clear image of the epidemic and the knowledge on how to deal with it.
Dr. Abdullatif Al-Hamada
Sulwan Psychiatric Center