Are you worrying about Coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus has now been declared a pandemic, with more than 450 people affected in the UK at the time this article was published.  Since the disease was discovered in January it has affected more than 100,000 people worldwide, leading to whole countries quarantining themselves in an attempt to slow the spread.

Some people are not as concerned about the appearance of this new illness, citing flu statistics from the 2017-2018 UK flu season where there were 26,408 deaths. Their main argument seems to be that the flu kills lots of people, so why should we be worried that there’s a new disease that may also kill thousands of people? Other people are highly concerned and fearful of how dangerous this new virus can be. When faced with uncertainty there is no predictable path that people follow, every person reacts individually.

The World Health Organisation and Public Health England have repeatedly stated that there is no need to buy protective face-masks or latex gloves, yet some of us still feel more secure with knowing we can do something. Basic hygiene measures like regularly washing your hands, using hand sanitiser when you’re in public spaces, and covering your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze are strong enough measures.

However, they’re also using words like ‘pandemic’ and ‘inevitable spread’ rather than containment.  This makes it difficult for people to know if they should be worried or not, especially when every time you turn on the news or open a newspaper there’s another story detailing the spread of this new illness.

While this is a cause of concern for most people, here are some who are finding the news about this virus particularly difficult to deal with.  Many people already struggle with health anxiety, an anxiety disorder that is characterised by a preoccupation with their health and the possibility of catching an illness.

The NHS advises using cognitive behavioural tools to help calm the anxiety you might be feeling about coronavirus.  Their tips include challenging your thoughts by determining the actual likelihood of them occurring, reducing the number of times that you seek external reassurance and keeping yourself busy doing things that occupy your mind.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy has written before about health anxiety and the impacts it can have upon a sufferer’s quality of life. If you are struggling with intrusive and distressing thoughts about either your health, or the health of your loved ones because of coronavirus you may find it helpful to talk to a qualified therapist who can help you change your focus and put your worries into a wider perspective.

Talking therapies have been proven to help treat anxieties, stress and depression and clinical hypnotherapy particularly can be of benefit when working with mental health conditions. Sessions with a hypnotherapist can help you to assess the issues and identifying their root – whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship.

Click here to access the NCH directory to find a therapist who can help you.