In civilizations across every corner of the world, anxiety is as common as social norms. The uncertainty that causes anxiousness and the need to belong (to society) that leads one to adopt social views and roles are both instinctive human feelings. They can obstruct or complement an individual’s overall development in one way or another. However, extreme inclination towards them can not only disrupt one’s well-being but also affect one’s choices and actions. These fundamental causes of behaviour help us anticipate and adapt to life in our respective environments.
The wake of 2020 saw an intimidating infiltration of the SARS-CoV2 strain on a global scale. In India and many other countries, this unexpected entry of the virus has gradually led to the current era’s COVID-19 epidemic. As a result, Under-developed, Developed and Developing nations have all been witnessing economic and civil distress. On a bright side, however, the prolific spike in the act of sanitization, in attempts to avert the infection, might have to lead us closer to one of the SDG’s by the UN, namely Health and Sanitation. Emphasizing, that even though positive cases increase daily, the recovery rate in India, this month almost crossing 50 per cent, according to the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Continued social distancing, wearing face masks, and frequently washing our hands, are the three crucial to-dos in today’s testing times. While the feelings of anxiety around COVID-19 and it’s symptoms continue to persist, it is safe to say that the to-do as mentioned above’s might just become new additions to social norms.
So it is time we acknowledge this pandemic with an open mind and a realistic perspective, rather than a mindset that views the world through the lens of a pessimist. The latter will not only leave you feeling distraught and worried, but it may also lead to Hypochondriasis, a type of somatoform disorder of the psyche. Hypochondriasis is also referred to as Illness Anxiety Disorder, and it is characterized by a provoking belief that an individual has or is developing a severe illness. They are preoccupied with feelings of sheer anxiety about the disease and begin to associate minor bodily ailments with a virus. Their symptoms are not somatic in nature. Individuals suffering from Hypochondria frequently change doctors in the hopes that their pseudo- symptoms might get diagnosed appropriately by a different physician. Even after negative medical evaluations temporarily reassure them, they soon find other illnesses to obsess about. To reiterate, they have a misconception about the bodily discomfort they experience. They often believe that minor symptoms such as headaches, fever, body pain, and irregular bowel movements are a sign of serious illnesses. Some of these severe illnesses include neurological disorders, heart diseases, tumours or coronavirus.
The afflicted person persistently seeks medical help, although, the diagnosis of their symptoms have no pathological causes. Sometimes, the patient would actively avoid getting checked all together as the anxiety becomes severe, and the expectation of bad news becomes intolerable. This psychological disorder needs to be spoken of because about 49 per cent of the patients that come into medical settings are, in fact, cases of Hypochondriasis([i]). They are prevalent equally in men and women, but at times men are more prone to it, and it starts to surface from the ages of 20-30. The symptoms or physical sensations are misinterpreted, and they persist at times for several months or years. Since several medical examinations that do not support the diagnosis of any physical pathology. This results in the patient’s concern only get more pervasive due to the fear of contracting or having already contracted a severe disease. As the terrorizing contagion of coronavirus has become ubiquitous, it seeps into the thoughts and actions of the populace illness. Anxiety Disorder needs to be understood not only because the anxiety around this infection is on the rise, but also because adults have begun to fixate over minor symptoms. Furthermore adding to their frequent mental breakdowns and physical distress due to prolonged inactivity.
Worry or anxiety should be thought of as a malnourished form of motivation, rather than the disconcerting feelings of nervousness. Think of it as a catalyst as it acts to help us reflect on our surroundings and allows us to better understand our self. Although, along with the things we feel enthusiastic about and the things we are fearful of, it results in making a retrospective reflection of our thoughts and actions a bit more insightful. It does not imply that our feelings of worry are inappropriate, but, the anxiety has proven to be the sole reason why people became more careful and observant about their behaviours. This also explains why early men hid from the dangers of the night to protect themselves inside caves.
So evidently, we are all worried about our health and those of others, whether infected or not. But a change in perspective and a broader understanding of our place in this situation might help us better cope with the infection and the fear around it.