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Push notifications on your phone. Minute-by-minute updates on social media. In times of uncertainty like we are experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it's common for the constant breaking news to increase anxiety surrounding the event and potential fallout. Here are strategies you can try to ease your worries and calm your mind.
Shikha Verma, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Rogers' West Allis hospital and Kenosha clinic, says that an increase in anxiety is understandable given the circumstances.
"Mass measures like schools closing, cancelled trips or activities, and reduced social contact create heightened anxiety and panic-like situations in the general public," she explains. "Along with fear and increased anxiety, overwhelming news around natural disasters can also lead to depressive symptoms, sleep and appetite changes, increased irritability, inability to focus, increased risk of substance use, and other medical ailments like headaches."
To combat any anxiety or depression you may be experiencing, Dr. Verma recommends trying the following:
If you notice that friends or family members, particularly young children, are struggling with anxiety related to the coronavirus, there are steps you can take.
"Explain to them clearly and honestly what you know and ways to decrease the risk of contracting the illness," Dr. Verma says. She also recommends limiting their exposure to news, as they may have trouble understanding the facts, keeping a visual reminder of activities they can do on their own, and maintaining a regular sleep and mealtime schedule to reinforce a normal routine.
If you or a loved one are experiencing mental health symptoms that are concerning or that are progressively getting worse, it's important to seek help from a mental health professional. Rogers offers inpatient, residential, and outpatient treatment for adults, adolescents, and children struggling with mental health or addiction. Call 800-767-4411 or request a free, confidential screening online.
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