What to Do If the Pandemic Has Made You a Hypochondriac
Living through multiple years of a pandemic has taken its toll on us in a number of ways.
Not only has the virus done a number on our mental health, but in many cases, it can also exacerbate the fear and worry we feel when we get sick—even if that sickness has nothing at all to do with COVID. With many of us facing hypochondria these days, we wanted to learn more about how to deal with these anxieties in a healthy way, so we spoke to Jennifer Kelman, therapist and mental health expert for JustAnswer. Here's her top advice on what to do if the pandemic has made you a hypochondriac.
What Is Hypochondria?
Jennifer Kelman: Hypochondria is when a person has an abnormal fear about their health and they may worry that they are suffering from a serious disease. It can cause one to live in a state of fear and pursue medical appointments to rule out or confirm their worry about having a disease.
Hypochondria and the Pandemic
JK: The pandemic may have caused people to worry more about their health, particularly related to having COVID, such as, "Do I have a cold, or am I dying of COVID?" When uncertainty exists, we often fill in the blanks with worry, and this occurred a lot during the pandemic and continues to exist as we move through different phases of the pandemic.
Also read about: Read This if You're Not Ready to Stop Wearing a Mask
Being Cautious vs. Anxious
JK: Healthy caution is good. COVID is a deadly disease, but when it moves from caution to constant worry and anxiety causing you to shut down all aspects of your life, that is when it may be time to reach out for some support. Go easy on yourself, as these last few years have been tough, but if you feel that the anxiety is more pronounced than healthy caution, it may be time to look deeper.
The Case Against Googling Symptoms
JK: "Dr. Google" is not something I suggest. We all do it, but I think we should limit the amount of doom scrolling through these articles as often, as the internet is full of "information" that may or may not be accurate. If concerned, reach out to a mental health or medical professional.
How to Avoid Panic
JK: Try to stay in the moment and not project outward to what the symptoms could be. Get in touch with a doctor and let them know all that you are experiencing so you can get the support and care early on, which also can help to quell any anxiety around symptoms.
Also read about: 5 Tips on How To Cope with Post-Pandemic Social Anxiety
How to Deal With Worry
JK: Bring your mind back to the present by doing things you love. Grab a friend and get out with some exercise and socialization. There's nothing better than connecting with another, as there is healing in connection. Meditate, breathe, listen to music and connect with nature as well. All of these can help calm the nerves.
If you found this helpful, also be sure to click HERE to read our interview with Jennifer Kelman on how to overcome your phobias.