Doctors say COVID-19 stress could affect your mental health

Posted at 6:57 AM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 07:58:34-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — At this point, you know the symptoms of COVID-19, also known as the new coronavirus, but doctors say all the stress about possibly getting it could affect your mental health, too.

Doctors say you may have what's called coronavirus stress syndrome but there are ways to ease anxiety.

Doctors recommend using stress relievers or avoiding people who are paranoid about the virus. Also, spend time with just your close family and friends.

A negative side effect of all the stress is it can weaken your immune system, putting you at a higher risk of getting sick.

“It’s getting to dangerous proportions, a lot more dangerous in regard to stress and the psychological aspect of it and people doing things in a panic mass hysteria and doing things that are more dangerous than the actual coronavirus,” said psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman.

Doctors say the best advice is to relax, wash your hands periodically and avoid touching your face as much as you can.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.