Anxiety and Emotional Change

People who are recovering from COVID-19 or any critical illness are likely to experience a wide range of emotional states. These could include: shock, anxiety, sadness, anger, helplessness, confusion and many more.

  • Some people describe having had a “rollercoaster” of feelings and are surprised that this can continue for a while after they get home. These feelings may change rapidly or seem to stick around and be hard to shake off. Emotions may be closer to the surface and you may be more sensitive than you were before i.e. you may get tearful watching sad films.
  • No single person will react the same and it is so important to tell yourself that how you feel right now if normal and understandable as you have just had a very frightening and traumatic time.
  • Please watch this very helpful short video clip: https://covidpatientsupport.lthtr.nhs.uk/#/lessons/NT0zPIWGwoN7Ql9–p4SY7DRaxw8T4lt
  • Common emotional difficulties after Covid-19 can include:

    • Anxiety and panic – including worry about your health, fear of going out/infection, and anxiety around breathlessness
    • Low mood and depression – can be common after a period of illness and one which may have been frightening. This can be made worse by social and leisure restrictions.
    • Response to the trauma, which may have included feeling a threat to life – including flashbacks, sleep problems, nightmares and reminders bringing it to mind.
    • Delirium and confusion: Please see https://covidpatientsupport.lthtr.nhs.uk/#/lessons/_NFhX0FzhtxXs8ecCOO3aw4E752hR1ms
  • Your mind will be more ‘tuned-in’ to bodily symptoms.’ You may worry more about further illness for some time. At first, you may need extra reassurance from loved ones and/or your doctor and this is understandable and okay.
  • You may experience common symptoms of anxiety including difficulty relaxing, fast heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath, racing thoughts, tense muscles, etc. You may also feel more anxious when you are alone. Though frightening; anxiety cannot harm you.
  • If you still have some breathlessness, this can trigger a reminder of when you were very unwell, and make you feel anxious. Symptoms of anxiety can then include breathlessness, which can then trigger even more anxiety! And then a vicious cycle can develop. This can lead to panic attacks which create very strong physical symptoms including shallow breathing, sweaty palms and shaking, and can be frightening.
  • The good news is that there are many ways to break this circle or to prevent it from happening in the first place…

If you are worried that wearing a mask will exacerbate your anxiety:

  • Try wearing a mask at home to start with to acclimatise to the feeling. If it is too uncomfortable the Government has made it very clear that anyone managing physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or anyone for which wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress are exempt from having to wear them in public. Please do not feel you must wear one if you fit into these categories.
  • Obviously ensure you maintain other measures such as social distancing and regularly washing and sanitising hands
  • If anyone challenges you, simply say: “I’m in a health category that the Government has advised do not need to wear masks. Please rest assured I am taking every other precaution including minimising my contact with others, practicing social distancing and regularly washing and sanitising my hands.”
  • Further information can be found here:

    https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/coronanxiety-support-resources/

    https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/mask-anxiety-face-coverings-and-mental-health/

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