The World Health Organization has declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic. The constant flow of news from all types of media may heighten fears about the disease. People need facts to protect themselves from contracting the infection, but information overload can spur excessive worry. Dr. Sheila Jowsey-Gregoire, a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist, says anxiety can build when people feel that a situation is out of their control, and when rumors spread.
"Many unique situations are going to arise that need to be considered on a case-by-case basis," says Dr. Jowsey-Gregoire. "Using problem-solving and flexibility as key coping strategies, rather than relying on emotional coping ⏤ anger and despair ⏤ will help you feel, and be, in control."
Dr. Jowsey-Gregoire offers these tips on what to do when worry about the coronavirus becomes disruptive:
"Using your support network to generate ideas about how to solve problems and help defuse tension is important as well," says Dr. Jowsey-Gregoire. "Be careful not to react to rumors to ensure that you are not reacting to information that is not an accurate assessment of what is really happening. Avoid spreading rumors as well."
Contact your health care provider if you experience:
Dr. Jowsey-Gregoire says the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website provides resources for people with mental health concerns. You can also call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990 or text "talkwithus" to 66746. People with deafness or hearing loss can use preferred relay service to call 1-800-985-5990.