EXPLAINED: What is Coronaphobia & how to cope with it?

Coronaphobia. Does it warrant attention or is it simply another fancy phrase that surfaced during the pandemic? To put an end to this debate, let’s be clear: it is not fancy but is in fact extremely genuine. The coronaphobia extends beyond health concerns and includes the dread of losing a loved one or even the worry of losing a career and a life without work. Regardless of the type of COVID phobia, there are several approaches to deal with it and overcome it. 

People who experience it have terrifying tales to share about how they feel. COVID undoubtedly inspired the creation of other concepts and jargon, such as epidemic learning pods, which anxious parents began setting up for their kids. Following that are social distancing, quarantine, and COVID bubble. Numerous other words, including asymptomatic, self-isolation, personal protective equipment (PPE), N95 respirator, incubation time, community spread, and COVID clusters, are often used by medical professionals. We have to be on top of everything, especially coronaphobia which concerns one’s health. 

What is Coronaphobia?

The genesis of the term Coronophobia took place in December 2020 almost a year after the first COVID case was detected. The researchers who helped develop the word say that coronaphobia is a new form of anxiety that is unique to COVID-19. Anyone can have anxiety when they consider getting a COVID, which can occasionally result in fatalities, and the epidemic was just that. However, there are instances when this worry turns into a serious problem, necessitating the adoption of certain coping mechanisms.

Researchers reviewed nearly 500 studies and defined coronophobia. As per the researchers, coronaphobia is as “an excessive triggered response of fear of contracting the virus causing COVID-19, leading to accompanied excessive concern over physiological symptoms, significant stress about personal and occupational loss, increased reassurance and safety seeking behaviours, and avoidance of public places and situations, causing marked impairment in daily life functioning.” 

What are the factors leading to coronaphobia? 

Now the question that remains is what is it that triggers coronophobia. Researchers have come up with a list which includes various risk factors for coronaphobia. These include adopting new routines and avoidance behaviour, as well as the worry that can arise when you read about world leaders and celebrities who have gotten the virus. These uncertainties include if you’ll catch COVID-19 or if your job is in peril. One of the other things that is seen to have caused coronophobia and its related anxiety is spending more time on social media platforms. 

Which gender, age group is at most risk? 

In a conversation with Health media portal, Lily Brown, PhD, director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania, said that women have reported more anxiety than men during the pandemic. Brown said that women worry about family members catching the COVID virus or inadvertently spreading the virus themselves. Brown also found that younger people tend to experience increased anxiety in comparison to elder people. The reason behind this is anxieties pertaining to their future. 

How to cope with coronaphobia? Opt for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

Coronaphobia can be treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). One might choose between individual and group cognitive behavioural treatment in this. This therapy is useful in easing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depressive disorders, anxiety, and other traumas. The goal of cognitive therapy is to alter a person’s erroneous thought patterns by focusing on how ideas and beliefs affect mood and behaviour. The goal of behavioural therapy is to alter unhelpful behaviour patterns by putting an emphasis on actions.

Managing stress 

Take pauses from reading the news, especially social media news. Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and other healthy foods to take care of your body. Stretch, breathe deeply, or practise meditation. Avoid using tobacco products, including smoking. Try engaging in some other enjoyable activities. Relate to others. Contact your faith- or community-based groups. Here is the guidance by CDC on how to cope with stress. 

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