Anxiety processes linked to the coronavirus crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed us, altered our way of life, presenting a situation of stress and anxiety that has more or less affected everyone.

And it is that society is not prepared to live with a pandemic which leads to a drastic change in daily life: restrictions on going out on the street, loss of contact with other people, isolation, alterations or even loss of work. or death of a loved one.

All of these facts have affected the mental health of the society, and more psychological issues have arisen such as the excessive increase in anxiety, increasing at the onset of the pandemic and persisting, in many cases, for a long time. months.

Below we will see what they are the most common anxiety disorders that can occur during a crisis like the coronavirus, and we will report some measures to deal with it.

    What do we mean by anxiety?

    Throughout the history of psychology, attempts have been made to define the concept of anxiety by differentiating it from other terms such as “anxiety” or “fear”.. Anxiety could be explained as an emotional state generated by a diffuse combination of disruptive emotions which has no external source to generate it and does not arise in the face of a current threat but the possibility of a future danger which often is unpredictable.

    Author Peter Lang has proposed a triple response system that appears in states of anxiety: the subjective-cognitive system linked to internal experience, the physiological-somatic system, linked to the activation of the autonomic nervous system, and the motor-behavioral response system encompasses all observable responses to behavior.

    Within the category of anxiety there are different types, although they all have in common exhibit a tendency for irrational, excessive and persistent behavior, generate discomfort and disturb the person. Regarding the prevalence of this type of disorder, a high percentage of it has always been observed in society, being considered in many cases to be the most common psychological disorder and occurring mainly in women.

      Types of anxiety

      As we pointed out earlier, the anxiety group is made up of different disorders which, although they have similar characteristics, also have differences and defining aspects of each.

      Currently, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Manual of the American Psychological Association (DSM 5) categorizes anxiety disorders: panic disorder characteristic of fear of experiencing a panic or anxiety attack (sudden onset of fear or anxiety). discomfort) accompanied by symptoms of autonomic activation), agoraphobia (fear of experiencing panic attack symptoms in a situation where escaping or receiving help is difficult), specific phobia (this is the fear of a stimulus or a specific situation) and social anxiety disorder emergence of anxiety in the face of a social situation or public performance.

      The manual also describes generalized anxiety disorder; in this case, the fear or anxiety is not specific to a stimulus or a situation, but is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with different aspects of daily life. Finally, it also describes types of anxiety more typical of childhood, such as separation anxiety disorder and selective mutism.

      To be considered as such, any disorder must affect the functionality of the person, that is, alter any aspect of their life or cause discomfort. It has been observed that the most prevalent anxiety disorder in society is specific phobia and that in the clinical field panic disorder with agoraphobia is one of the most disabling.

      Likewise, DSM 5 created another diagnostic category for trauma-related disorders and adaptive disorders; here we find post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which appears as a reaction to a traumatic event, affecting functionality and producing discomfort or adaptive disorder with less discomfort than PTSD but still greater than expected, and dysfunctional.

        Anxiety and stress during the pandemic

        The consequences of the COVID-19 crisis have been devastating not only in terms of physical health, but also in the area of ​​mental and social health.. The situations we have experienced have been extreme, unable to leave home, isolated and giving rise to cases of people with previous psychopathologies living alone and unable to identify with others.

        In addition, the triggered economic crisis has affected the workplace and purchasing power, experiences capable of completely disrupting people’s habits and plans for the future. In this sense, the constant fear and tension generated by job insecurity play an important role.

        All these sudden changes have affected the population to a greater or lesser extent, because their lives have changed regardless of the economic situation, age … The virus can affect anyone, and therefore the entire population is at risk.

        A part of the factors that were most influenced by anxiety triggered by the pandemic son:

        • The need to be isolated at home and the unwanted loneliness that this engenders, making relationships with others impossible (remember that humans are social beings, and that means we need contact with them. others).
        • The economy: many people have seen their jobs threatened by reduced working hours or even by dismissal.
        • Fear of losing physical health.
        • The fear of being the culprit of contagion to a loved one.
        • Grief following the illness or death of loved ones.
        • The constant dissemination of sensationalist and catastrophic news about the pandemic.

        In general, the mental health situation in global society has worsened, affecting more people living in more disadvantaged socio-economic situations, those who have experienced mental health problems in the past and those who have suffered directly from the virus. . It has been seen that 1 in 5 of those affected was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, depression or insomnia diagnosis. and show twice the likelihood of suffering from these disorders compared to the general population.

        The situation was so extreme and unexpected that the prevalence of suicidal thoughts even increased by 8-10%, especially among young adults.

        In Spain, in the specific case of anxiety problems, the people questioned, 15.8% said they had suffered an anxiety attackaffecting the daily life of 66.7% of these subjects and further harming the female population.

        Are you looking for professional psychological support?

        If you are looking for psychotherapy services, I invite you to contact me.

        Caroline Marin

        Degree in psychology. Federated by FEAP

        Verified professional


        Online therapy

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        I am a General Health Psychologist federated by FEAP and I offer more than 20 years of experience in the sector; sessions can be conducted in person or online.

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