Feeling increasingly anxious, worried, or scared of unforeseen dangers since the emergence of coronavirus? You’re not the only one. Reports suggest that people around the world are going through the same thing. And they have a name for it – pandemic paranoia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incessant wave of fear and loss. With 2.53 million deaths worldwide and millions more left jobless or mourning the loss of a loved one, Covid-19 has been one of the worst medical health catastrophes in living memory.
The ensuing stress from the impact of the pandemic, which completely changed the way the world functioned (read travel bans, home quarantines, lockdowns, sanitisers, mandatory face masks and PPE suits), has led to a phenomenon called ‘pandemic paranoia – a constant state of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear of what may happen next.
“The pandemic has brought on great uncertainty and stress,” Dr. Bandy X. Lee told CNN. According to the forensic psychiatrist and expert on violence from New York, the “exceptionally prolonged lockdown” caused “social disruptions” and “economic misery that led to increasing incidents of suicides, homicides, drug abuse, addiction and depression. Lee, who is presently the president of the World Mental Health Coalition also said that the present conditions in the United States were worse now than at the time of the Great Depression, adding that “ineffective management” of the pandemic caused such conditions to occur.
Following the Donald Trump years, a period when his voters and MAGA supporters were actively encouraged to believe in the lies propagated by former Republican President. Trump has on several occasions called the virus a hoax.
The thought was echoed by late-night talk show host Seth Myers who said that disinformation played a huge role in creating the fear and paranoia.
Speaking about the recent vaccine rollout by the Joe Biden administration and experiencing the winter through the pandemic, Myers on the latest episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers said that a pandemic winter “f***ing sucks” and it was as if his soul was on a hangnail.
Experts, however, have some advice on how to deal with pandemic paranoia and the first step is to identify the problem. And talking to people is an important part of that process.
Building a support system, confiding in friends and loves ones and accepting their support is a crucial part of identifying paranoia.
“This is really going to come down to communication between the individual and hopefully whatever sources of support they have in their life. Clinical psychologist Adam Borland from Cleveland, US, told CNN. Borland, who has seen an increase in the number of patients displaying signs of paranoia and paranoid behaviour since the pandemic.
Borland adds that one can counter their own paranoia by identifying paranoid thoughts and then working to develop daily routines that can help avoid them. Setting attainable goals is also a good way to deal with paranoid thoughts as they bring a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Setting specific hours for connecting with self, interacting with loved ones, sleeping and other activities like exercise can help release stress and uncertainty – the leading factors that contribute to paranoia.
Ensuring adequate sleep and a healthy diet also goes a long way in preserving health.