Coronavirus anxiety reports up, doctors say; encourage public to stay calm, keep perspective on COVID-19

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's hard to turn off the announcements of more cases of COVID-19, school closings, the stock market crashing, and the uncertainty news of the novel coronavirus brings is making people extremely anxious.

"The thing I can liken it to is back when AIDS was first happening, and HIV. It's very much like that," said Dr. Karen Cassiday of Anxiety Treatment Center of Greater Chicago.

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But Cassidy said the anxiety over COVID-19 is even greater because of today's access to so much competing media. Her clinic has been flooded with emails and calls not only from people who already have anxiety disorders, but from others who tend to worry. Cassiday said worriers will gravitate toward negative information.

"Natural disasters, plane crashes, anything like that, this is where I think COVID-19 fits into that," she said. "People have the misconception of, 'Things are dangerous and I'm more vulnerable' because of a constant feed of negative information."

Experts say adults should take a page out of their kids' playbook and concentrate on the present rather than worry about their future.

"Kids are pretty hardy and roll with the punches and adapt pretty quickly to the latest news flash of, terrible things are happening in the world," said Dr. Debra Kissen, CEO of Light on Anxiety.

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Psychologists say it's important to pay attention to positive news and keep COVID-19 in perspective.

"Another thing to remind yourself is our country has been through much worse," Cassiday said.

In days ahead, experts say it is important to accept the uncertainty of the virus, live well in the moment and, as the saying goes, keep calm and carry on.
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