Coronavirus Essay: Stress and Anxiety

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Coronavirus: Stress and Anxiety

Coronavirus Essay: Introduction

The news agenda of 2020 has been challenging in terms of the mental health of individuals due to following unfortunate events such as the U.S—Iran tension, Australian fires, and the Coronavirus, respectively. Accordingly, this assignment is focused on the Coronavirus pandemic and its relation with stress, coping, and anxiety. The paper presents insights into the summary of Guardian article on Coronavirus and its related psychological concepts. Also, two recent empirical articles on the same concept have been analyzed and correlated with the current agenda. Eventually, the relation between the results of each article, future concerns, and further research recommendations have been presented.

Summary of the Guardian Article

The news article by Jessica Murray and Harriet Sherwood, "Anxiety on the rise due to coronavirus, say mental health charities," was published on March 13, 2020, in theguardian.com. The first heading instantly indicates that "people with existing issues, including OCD (Obsessive-compulsive Disorder), are particularly vulnerable" groups (Murray & Sherwood, 2020, para. 1). According to the authors, Coronavirus lead to increased anxiety and stress among many individuals. In this context, many people may feel fearful, angry, overwhelmed, and sad. This pandemic can also result in sleeping problems for some individuals. Also, physical symptoms such as upset stomach, increased heart rate, along with the tendency for public transportation, and fear of contact to other people can be considered among other complications.

According to Stephen Buckley, "we know that the Coronavirus and its impact are causing stress and worry for many people. If you already have a mental health problem, the worries of Coronavirus may affect how you are coping" (Murray & Sherwood, 2020, para. 4). In this direction, one can assume that isolation and quarantine may have drastic negative psychological impacts on individuals who already suffer from mental disorders. More specifically, during the previous pandemics, the state of upset mood and physiology led even to suicide incidents in extreme cases (Murray & Sherwood, 2020). In terms of anxiety, pandemic also causes complications and concerns.

As Kathyrn Kinmond suggested, "uncertainty is a key driver of anxiety, and the pandemic gives rise to lots of uncertainty, and this has particular resonance with people who suffer from anxiety" (as cited in Murray & Sherwood, 2020, para. 11). Overall, many patients suffering from anxiety indicated that they had a hard time dealing with the news in social media and conventional media channels such as television. Another group of psychologists infers that substantial anxiety sessions may eventually result in panic attacks for some patients. In the conclusion section, the authors recommend that individuals who already suffer from mental and behavioral disorders should avoid repeatedly reading the same news and advice. Also, focusing on breathing exercises (e.g., mindfulness) may be a beneficial practice for those patients.

Stress and Anxiety

Many individuals may experience stressful events from time to time. Stress refers to demands placed on our physical bodies or brains. In this sense, many people can report stressful moods when they are overwhelmed with multiple challenges or competing demands. Also, the stress itself can be triggered by an incident that makes us nervous or frustrated. On the other hand, anxiety refers to a state of unease, fear, or worry. Anxiety can be a reaction against stress. Many people who cannot identify the core stressors in their lives can face anxiety.

Although both words may seem negative, anxiety and stress are not always harmful to human psychology and physiology. That is, the stress in the short term is considered beneficial as it triggers the survival instinct. More specifically, the stress in the short term can boost performance, situational awareness, and attentiveness during challenging situations. Feeling stressed before giving a speech, finding a job, taking an important test, or the first date with a lover are among the daily stress, which is not harmful to human health. Nevertheless, the stress in the long term is considered extremely harmful to human health (Legg, 2017). The human body is not designed for permanent stress, and our bodies become vulnerable if exposed to stress in a long period. Stress in the long term can also have physical impacts on our bodies and trigger psychosomatic disorders such as alopecia areata.

In this sense, anxiety and stress can create both mental and physical complications, including dizziness, rapid breathing, stomachache, headache, fast heartbeat, muscle tension, fatigue, frequent urination, trouble sleeping, and change in appetite. Also, emotional and mental complications may include irrational anger, feelings of impending down, restlessness, panic or nervousness, and lack of situational awareness and loss of concentration (Legg, 2017). Instant changes in life order and loss of a relative or lover are among the common causes. Medications and drugs can lead to stress-related disorders. Illicit drugs (cocaine, heroin, MDMA, etc.), excessive alcohol consumption, and excessive caffeine consumption may aggravate anxiety and stress (Legg, 2017). Also, asthma inhalers, thyroid medications, and diet pills are known to increase stress and anxiety.

Stress- and Anxiety-related Disorders

Frequent signs of stress and anxiety can be indicators of stress- and anxiety-related disorders. Findings state, "An estimated 40 million Americans live with some type of anxiety disorder” (Legg, 2017, para. 8). People with such disorders may regularly feel unease. Panic disorder, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are among the most common stress and anxiety-related disorders in literature.

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Although many incidents and bad habits can lead to stress and anxiety, some habits are considered useful to combat stress. However, these habits should be applied to medicine to have a proper impact. These habits and techniques include meditating, talking to a friend, sparing time for hobbies, proper sleep patterns, limiting alcohol and caffeine, balanced and healthy diet, deep breathing practices, embracing and recognizing the stressors, and getting regular exercise (e.g., sports activities, exercise). After all, although we may face many stressors such as tension with a beloved one, or even pandemics like Coronavirus, there are always ways to combat stress in the long term.

Summary of Research Articles

First Article

Wang, C.; Pan, R.; Wan, X.; Tan, Y.; Xu, L.; Ho, C.S.; Ho, R.C. (2020) Immediate Psychological Responses and Associated Factors during the Initial Stage of the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Epidemic among the General Population in China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 17, 1729.

The article, written by Wang et al. (2020), focuses on immediate psychological responses to Coronavirus in China. The study's objective is to understand the psychological impact levels, depression, anxiety, and stress at the beginning of the epidemic. In this direction, authors conducted an online survey "on demographic data, physical symptoms in the past 14 days, contact history with COVID-19, knowledge, and concerns, and precautionary measures against" the virus (Wang et al., 2020, p. 1). Findings infer that more than half of the participants felt psychological moderate-to-severe stressed, and about 30% of the participants described themselves as anxious, after WHO took control of the outbreak and made official declarations (Wang et al., 2020). Also, student status, physical symptoms, and female gender were highly interrelated with the psychological impact of the COVID-19. The authors conclude that the findings might be beneficial for formulating psychological interventions against risk groups.

Second Article

Limcaoco, R. S. G., Mateos, E. M., MatíasFernández1, J., & Roncero, C. (2020). Anxiety, worry, and perceived stress in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Biomedical Research Institute of Salamanca, 3(11), 1–11.

The article, written by Limcaoco et al. (2020), concentrates on anxiety and stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A team of doctors evaluated the current psychological state with the help of a web-based survey in Spanish and English. The objective was to determine the pandemic effect on perceived stress and anxiety levels on individuals. Accordingly, almost 1,100 people across the world have participated in the survey. Findings infer that anxiety, stress, and COVID-19 are highly interrelated. Also, the female gender presented higher levels of stress and anxiety, mostly due to sex differences in coping stress. Moreover, the study revealed that “individuals are experiencing affective and cognitive alterations” in terms of coping, stress, and anxiety (Limcaoco et al., 2020, p. 7). However, although COVID-19 seems to affect older individuals in a much more severe way, survey results show that older respondents have lower levels of anxiety and stress.

Synthesis & Analysis

Relation: Results and COVID-19

Both types of research show that Coronavirus has negative impacts on the psychological state of individuals across the world. In other words, the pandemic leads to the worsening of stress and anxiety-related disorders. It creates stress, worries, coping, and anxiety for everyday employers, along with all other segments of society. Moreover, we, as individuals, can easily observe the ongoing stress and anxiety in our social circles. Arguably, one can infer that the female gender seems to be more stressed and anxious than males, and this claim is supported by both articles as well.

Wang et al. claim that almost 90 percent of the population feel stressed and anxious, which highly reflects the current status. Now, the whole mainstream media, social media, and nearly all online assets are focused on Coronavirus news. In this sense, one can interpret that all of the articles collaborate in increased levels of anxiety and stress across the world.

Future Concerns

While the Guardian article suggests that people should avoid repeated negative news and habits such as overwashing, which can trigger obsessive actions, the other articles highlight the importance of formulating measurements against risk groups. Accordingly, the female gender, student group, and health workers are considered risk groups. Also, they both highlight the impact of repeated social media and mainstream media news about Coronavirus.

Recommendations

  • Coronavirus has recently shaped the business world as well. Therefore, individuals who experience a hard time concentrating can find freelance jobs to distract themselves from anxious and stressful overthinking (Gerdeman, 2020).

  • There are a set of habits that can help manage stress and anxiety. Individuals who feel overwhelmed can practice mindfulness meditation to ease their stress and worry.

  • Biologically, the female gender (risk group, according to research) is not as good as males' when it comes to coping stress. Therefore, male partners should support the female gender without criticizing, in a constructive manner.

  • Historically, COVID-19 is not the first outbreak. However, it is the recent one, and the impact is quite substantial due to increased transportation across the world. In this sense, instead of stress-driving social media and mainstream news channels, people should focus on scientific research articles to have a better insight into what is going on.

  • After all, authorities should take lessons from such an 'uncontrolled' and 'neglected' pandemic. Accordingly, new health and travel restrictions should be implemented, even after the vaccination. Findings infer that viral pandemics such as SARS and COVID will be common in this century.

Coronavirus Stress and Anxiety: Conclusion

This assignment has been focused on the Coronavirus pandemic and its relation to stress, coping, and anxiety. Also, two recent empirical articles on the same concept have been analyzed and correlated with the current agenda. Subsequently, the relation between the results of each article, future concerns, and recommendations section have been analyzed. Research findings infer that COVID-19, stress, anxiety, and worry are proportionally interrelated. The student group, female gender, and people with mental disorders are among the psychological risk group. A few recommendations have been presented to combat anxiety and stress during and after the pandemic.

References

Gerdeman, D. (2020, March 16). How the Coronavirus Is Already Rewriting the Future of Business Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/how-the-coronavirus-is-already-rewriting-the-future-of-business

Legg, T. J. (2017, May 25). Stress and Anxiety. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://healthline.com/health/stress-and-anxiety

Limcaoco, R. S. G., Mateos, E. M., MatíasFernández1, J., & Roncero, C. (2020). Anxiety, worry, and perceived stress in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Biomedical Research Institute of Salamanca, 3(11), 1–11.

Murray, J., & Sherwood, H. (2020, March 13). Anxiety on rise due to Coronavirus, say mental health charities.

Wang, C.; Pan, R.; Wan, X.; Tan, Y.; Xu, L.; Ho, C.S.; Ho, R.C. Immediate Psychological Responses and Associated Factors during the Initial Stage of the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Epidemic among the General Population in China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 1729.

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