DURBAN – The anxiety around Covid-19 is palpable in the country, as the number of confirmed infections has risen to over 118,000 and about 2,292 people have succumbed to the virus.
According to Rakhi Beekrum, counselling psychologist anxiety is a common psychological consequence of testing positive for Covid-19. The anxiety is not always irrational, it often centres around uncertainty, anxiety about one’s prognosis, fear of being stigmatised, fear of infecting others and the unpredictability of the virus.
“Depending on the individual’s risk factors (Such as pre-existing conditions), the anxiety may be heightened. Furthermore, self-isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety. Testing positive for the virus may exacerbate existing mental health challenges such as mood and anxiety disorders,” she said.
A recent survey conducted by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) found that nearly half of the 1 214 respondents felt that financial stress and pressure were one of the main challenges during the lockdown. Adding to this, over half of the respondents cited anxiety and panic as a major challenge.
While some are of the view that South Africa could see a massive rise in depression following the pandemic, Beekrum says the key to coping for those who test positive for Coronavirus, is to focus on what you can control and strengthen your immune system, following your doctor’s advice.
“Plan activities that make you feel productive, so your focus is not solely on the virus. Balance productivity and rest. Stay informed but limit your reading about the virus to one reputable source, for not more than a few minutes per day only,” she said.
Beekrum also advises that those who are in isolation, find other ways to stay connected with loved ones, such as using technology.
“Do more of what you enjoy to help you relax while in isolation – read, pray, journal, connect with loved ones online. Focus on what you are grateful for, despite this setback,” she added.
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