Some with OCD and other anxiety disorders are struggling amid the coronavirus epidemic.

By Angie Leventis Lourgos for the Chicago Tribune


Highlights from the article:

“The thing that makes the coronavirus difficult for people with anxiety is the level of uncertainty,” [Dr. Cassiday] said. “We know that when there’s uncertainty, then people with anxiety disorders try and narrow down the field of uncertainly to assume the worst-case scenario.”

Dr. Cassiday advises those who are distressed by anxiety symptoms to follow CDC and local health department guidelines, but not to check those sources to excess or take more precautions than recommended. Those with anxiety disorders might feel the urge to go further — more protections, more hand-washing, more avoidance, more assurance-seeking — but these behaviors create a cycle of fear and ultimately exacerbate anxiety.

“If social media or news sources become overwhelming, taking a brief break is all right; seek therapy if worries over the health epidemic impair daily routines or the ability to go out in public.  Don’t just white-knuckle your way through this outbreak,” she said.

Another coping strategy, she added, is to focus on the positive: Locally, medical providers say the risk of contracting coronavirus is low, the nation has a robust health system, and the United States had more advance notice of the virus than many other countries.

“If someone can view this as practice managing the inevitable uncertainty of life, this can be a really productive situation,” she said. “The only way to live with peace inside your heart is to accept this uncertainty and to live well in the present moment.”


If you’d like to hear more from Dr. Cassiday on remaining calm in the middle of global concerns about topics like coronavirus and climate change, listen to this episode from her podcast where she interviews Elizabeth DuPont Spencer, LCSW and anxiety disorder expert.

This post is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose mental health issues or serve as a treatment plan.  It is for the general public and not directed at any one person.