Coronavirus and Our Concerns

The coronavirus epidemic, which emerged at the end of 2019 and whose effects we have seen increasing since its name was mentioned, is giving the whole world a hard time.

Moreover, we now know that he is with us. I hope these difficult days, which push people to pillage the markets and when we stop behaving humanely to others, will come to an end as soon as possible. We read and learned about the virus and its disease (COVID-19), we were informed about the ways of protection, we washed our hands and we continue to wash them. Schools were closed, mass organizations and congresses were cancelled, necessary measures were taken. We are aware that we also have individual responsibilities during this process, but we fell into a state of social panic by getting stuck in the dense news network of social media. Will this state of intense anxiety and panic help us?

First of all, as a psychiatrist, I must state that the complaints of patients treated for health anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder have increased. Those who have the illusion that they have a fever while listening to the news, those who have panic attacks, and those who want to undergo unnecessary examinations while trying to cope with this stress are having a hard time. Human relations can also suffer from our anxieties because, regardless of someone sneezing or coughing next to us, we look for a place to escape, criticize and act in a way that goes against our human values. Psychiatrist Rollo May’s words come to mind when I see what anxiety can do to people: “Normal constructive anxiety goes with recognizing possibilities and taking on them. If I have the expectation and opportunity to mobilize my powers, I advance. But if anxiety becomes suffocating, the possibilities for action are wiped out.” So when we step out of constructive anxiety, we lose our ability to act normally. We become erroneous and inhibited in perceiving the danger correctly and planning what we can do, and we even forget what we know. Over time, our hopes may fade. However, how can we get through this period without hope?

If this is a world epidemic, we know that eventually we will all face the virus. It is very important to have access to the right information and to learn how to behave from competent sources (such as the Turkish Medical Association, the Turkish Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization…) because you may encounter information and images that increase your stress due to the technological opportunities we have, social media and news sources. Try not to be exposed to these sources too much, getting information from experts on the subject will enable you to reach the right information. Of course, you can seek help by paying attention to hygienic rules, eating regularly, taking care of your sleep, trying to live at more basic levels, and sharing your fears and concerns with other people. Remember that stress is a strong factor that is known to damage the immune system, and your immune system will support you during this period, take care of it.

Taking individual precautions and fulfilling responsibilities will enable us to get through this process in unity and solidarity instead of labeling each other as a society. The panic we live in can cause us to make wrong decisions, and our ties with the people around us can be damaged. Protecting our mental health is as important as protecting ourselves from the virus. While we continue our daily lives, let’s protect our human values ​​and take the necessary precautions. Love…

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