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Your virus questions answered

Can my anxiety give me Covid-19 symptoms?

02 July 2021 - 07:00 By unathi nkanjeni
Covid-19 has had profound effects on people's lives and mental health across SA. Stock photo.
Covid-19 has had profound effects on people's lives and mental health across SA. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/F8studio

With the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases in the country, the virus has not only affected people's physical health but taken a toll on their mental health too. 

For some, the thought of Covid-19 can trigger anxiety, and this can result in symptoms resembling those of the virus.

Do you have Covid-19 or are you having an anxiety attack?

According to National Alliance on Mental Health, people with anxiety will experience various symptoms such as;  

  • Having a sense of apprehension or dread
  • Feeling tense or jumpy
  • Being restless or irritable
  • Anticipating the worst
  • Watching for signs of danger

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the main symptoms of Covid-19 that you should look for include the following;

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • muscle aches
  • headaches
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • a sore throat
  • congestion
  • a runny nose
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea

How do I control my anxiety during the pandemic?

According to existential psychotherapist Sara Kuburic, setting boundaries is a method to deal with Covid-19 anxiety and protect your mental health.

“Boundaries are incredibly important when we are feeling anxious or experiencing a crisis,” Kuburic wrote on Instagram.

Communicating your boundaries in terms of what you want to hear is key and can help during this stressful time, she said.

These boundaries include:

  • “I don’t want to talk about the coronavirus now.”
  • “I understand you are trying to be helpful with your suggestions, but I just need space to experience my emotions.”
  • “If you are not feeling well, please don’t come over.”
  • “I appreciate how informed you are, but I don’t want to receive links to articles and media coverage.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also released advice on protecting your mental health during the outbreak.

The 31-point guide targets healthcare workers, health facility managers, childcare providers, older adults, care providers, people with underlying health conditions and those living in isolation to try to contain the pandemic.

According to WHO, avoiding news that causes distress or anxiety can be useful.

The organisation suggested seeking factual information from trusted sources once or twice a day.

“The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried,” said WHO. “Get the facts, not the rumours and misinformation”.