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Friday, March 20, 2020

Your Anxiety Can Produce Symptoms That Make You Think You Have Coronavirus

Coronavirus, Anxiety

Feeling so hot you’re sweating? Struggling to breathe? Got a mouth dryer than the Sahara?

Don’t let your mind jump straight to ‘oh God, I have coronavirus’. You might be having a panic attack.

Feeling anxious amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is to be expected. We’re in scary times with misinformation flying about and a fear of what’s going on and what could happen next.

But while you can easily recognise when you’re having worried thoughts about coronavirus, you might not be able to identify the physical signs of struggling with anxiety – which, frustratingly, can be similar to the symptoms of coronavirus.

This can cause a dangerous cycle of panic. You worry about coronavirus, so your body creates what feels like symptoms of coronavirus, which you then take as evidence that you do actually have coronavirus… which leads to more anxiety and worsening symptoms.

Early symptoms of coronavirus include a fever, dry cough, shortness of breath and a sore throat.

Coronavirus, Anxiety

Dr Martina Paglia of The International Psychology Clinic tells that it’s very likely many people are developing symptoms similar to coronavirus, simply due to anxiety.

‘They are so concerned regarding the uncertainty surrounding the virus that they will convince themselves it’s only a matter of time before the symptoms appear,’ she explains.

The mind is unable to discriminate between real and perceived danger, and when we feel threatened and vulnerable, adrenaline surges through the body, causing increased anxiety and often triggering chest pain, shortness of breath, and feeling too hot.

If you have a history of anxiety and panic attacks, remind yourself that it’s more likely your symptoms are psychosomatic than you’ve caught the virus.

When you feel overwhelmed and physical symptoms appear, pause and try some grounding techniques. If your symptoms ease off once you’re more relaxed, you can be reassured that they were due to panic, not coronavirus.

Coronavirus, Anxiety
But don’t feel silly for needing to call 111 regardless. If you’re seriously worried that you may be ill, it’s always worth getting a professional opinion – if only so you can have your suspicions that anxiety’s to blame confirmed.

‘Research has shown that women are more than twice as likely to suffer from anxiety attacks than men,’ says Dr Paglia. ‘A panic attack could easily be mistaken for the onset of Coronavirus, particularly in cases where there is already an underlying respiratory problem.

‘If you are aware that you suffer from panic attacks and suddenly experience chest pain or breathing difficulties without an accompanying cough or fever, it is unlikely that you are infected with the virus.

‘However, it is always advisable that you still contact 111, and the medical team will be able to make an informed decision about your condition.’

And if you do find yourself consistently experiencing high levels of anxiety amid the coronavirus pandemic, chat to your GP or therapist to see if medication or counselling could help. Many therapists will offer video counselling, so you don’t need to leave the house if you’re self-isolating.
Coronavirus, Anxiety


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