“The media are doing their best to scare us. Don’t let them or your OCD inflate the risk.”
Sara Dewhurst, 34 from the Ribble Valley near Manchester, used to suffer from health anxiety, also known as hypochondria, so badly that she would have regular panic attacks and avoid crowded public places. She learned how to manage her symptoms to the point that it barely affected her day-to-day life, but her old anxious thoughts have begun creeping back in since the coronavirus started spreading.
“I keep thinking, ‘What if I get sidetracked and forget to wash my hands and touch my mouth?’, ‘How ill will I get if I catch it?’ and ‘Will I die?’,” she says. “I have to work hard at keeping a rational grip on my anxiety, particularly when visiting cities or travelling on public transport.”
Fortunately, Dewhurst, a psychotherapist and owner of The Well Nest, has been able to draw upon the coping techniques she adopted when she struggled with health anxiety before, such as body scanning and deep breathing.
So, if you’re finding things tough and aren’t sure how to manage your mental and physical symptoms, what can you do?