Repeatedly washing your hands, avoid coming in contact with people who are sick, obsessively reading about undiagnosed medical conditions, etc is common for people who are diagnosed with any form of Anxiety Disorders. With the recent WHO declared Pandemic situation it is hard for people suffering from anxiety disorder to control their worries Therapists throughout the world are concerned about their patients who have progressed and are in remission, there is a worry for these people to relapse into their old habits.
For a person who is diagnosed with Obsessive- Compulsive disorder (OCD), the last thing you would want to say to them is ‘wash your hands as often as possible’. Someone with Health Anxiety may feel it is rational to stay updated and binge on new developments as much as possible.
A person diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) may feel it is alright to worry for themselves and the world as everyone is doing. The difference between the anxiety experienced by this population and the rest of the world lies in the force that drives the anxiety.
For someone who has OCD, it is not the demand of the hour to follow the guidelines to stop spreading the virus but a response to shut the thoughts that tell them they are in danger and must do it.
Few tips that people with anxiety disorder can follow right now to feel better –
- Stick to the guidelines
Do not let your OCD or health anxiety drive your behavior to stay safe, follow what is recommended by the WHO guidelines like wash your hands only for 20 seconds, wash before eating or coming in contact with people infected with this virus
- Moderate your news consumption
You do not have to watch the news regularly and throughout the day. Incorporate something called ‘Update periods’ in your routine. In this set aside 5 minutes of news intake twice a day, allow yourself to watch only during these times. Also, make sure you follow only authentic websites to get your information
- Do not make a diagnosis on what you see over the internet, reach out to authorities and let the professional take care of you for this.
- Let people around you know that this is a hard time for you and your anxieties are heightened and allow them to support and take care of you.
- If you have been to therapy previously and have discussed how to cope with the fear of contamination then stick to the techniques you have learned. You are much more prepared for this global anxiety than most people. Trust yourself and be kind to yourself during this time.
- Establish boundaries with yourself and others. Read Here- Social Distance In The Time of Coronavirus
The guidelines set by WHO like avoiding crowds, the use of a sanitiser, checking your temperatures twice a day, avoiding contact with people opened a window into lives of someone living with anxiety disorder throughout their lives.
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