Dear Barb—De-isolation Anxiety

Dear Barb:

Hi, I have been in isolation for the last seven weeks, except for picking up groceries and prescriptions.  Now that things are easing a bit and I am going out more, I find my anxiety level rising.  I have always had anxiety, but it has basically been under control.  I talked to another friend who has also suffered from anxiety, and she feels extremely stressed as well.  Whenever I go out, I feel like I want to go back home where it’s safe.  I don’t know if I have a fear of catching the virus, but I always want to return home.  However, when I am at home, I am anxious to go out.  I’m thinking of going to my doctor to get some medication, but I am hesitant because last time I was on meds, I was on them for four years and it took a year to slowly wean myself off.  I don’t feel like myself when I’m on meds, and I don’t want to go through the withdrawal process again.  I need some advice.  Thanks, Trish.

Hey Trish:

This is a difficult and stressful time for everyone.  If you have already struggled with anxiety, you will be more prone to experience it again during stressful times.  You are not alone; Crisis Centers in Canada have experienced a 30 to 50 percent rise in crisis calls.  No doubt people are suffering.  In addition to the isolation, when people go out, they have a fear of catching the virus and becoming seriously ill.  Financial situations are another stressor.  Even having to explain this pandemic to your children, while not causing too much anxiety for them, is difficult.  My suggestion is contact your doctor.  Most likely you will not be able to go into the office, but you can have a phone consult.  Be sure to mention your concern about going on medication.

I’m sure you are aware of the steps that you need to take to protect yourself physically, like good hygiene, staying away from groups of people, and staying home if you feel ill.   In addition, there are things you can do to help feel more in control.  For example, check out sites that are trustworthy such as http://www.canada.ca/coronavirus and http://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus.  In addition, it is important that you stay connected to family and friends.  Even though there isn’t a lot to talk about, a quick call to make sure everyone is alright does wonders for you and the other person’s mental health.  Also limit your time on social media.  Do not click on every link that pops up on your phone or laptop.  Check trusted sites, but only a couple of times a day to see if there is something you need to be doing.  You can also connect with tele-health or e-health services, or some of the many online support sites that are available.  It is essential that you reach out as you feel necessary, do not withdraw, it will make things worse.  Begin with a call to your family doctor.  Take care and remember we’re all in this together.

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