The President has declared a national emergency.
Schools have been closed and gatherings cancelled. Your plans for Spring 2020 have been turned upside down. The news is filled with the increasing numbers of cases of this strange virus, and everywhere you turn, conversations focus on discussing the dangers and risks. What do you do with this information overload? COVID-19 anxiety has gone viral – How do you weather the uncertainty?
Lilyanne, a mother of five, returned from a spring break trip to the northwest. It was a chance to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They were able to get outside and camp, and take in the beauty of the rugged Oregon coast. After she and her children arrived back in their small rural town in Oklahoma, she didn’t feel right. She checked her temperature and it was 102. No wonder!
Before long she was coughing…hard. It was a dry cough but it hurt. Her preschooler was wheezing, and with her daughter’s asthma history she thought it best to take her to the doctor. The doctor prescribed Tamiflu for both Lilyanne and her little girl.
Her daughter Bessie started feeling better quickly but Lilyanne felt no improvement. She asked the doctor for a COVID-19 test, and the doctor said he wasn’t sure yet how to test for that.
A couple days went by, and Lilyanne decided to go to an urgent care. She worried that she might get too sick to care for her children, and also wanted to know if she should isolate herself away from them. The urgent care had no idea how to do the testing either.
So Lilyanne went to the ER. She hated to expose others there but tried to be very careful. She needed to know if she’d been infected in Oregon or in the plane…or somewhere else.
The ER doctor tested her for other infections, but explained that she didn’t meet criteria for a COVID-19 test.
“I don’t meet criteria?? Why not??” She felt overwhelmed.
Covid 19 anxiety has gone viral, and she wished she knew what to do…
The best thing she knew to do was to quarantine herself and her five children in the house. But to do that…she needed groceries so they could eat.
Again, she tried to be really careful, using hand sanitizer every few minutes at the store. She quickly filled her cart with necessities since they’d been out of town 9 days. Then, she chose frozen meats, veggies, and snacks, along with milk, juice, pasta, and produce.
She paid without touching the cashier, wiped down the terminal where she inserted her card, and hurried out of the store.
Once home, the kids helped with unloading groceries, and she took off her clothes, put on her nightgown, and crawled under the covers. Before long, her oldest son, Colton, brought her a steaming mug of herbal tea.
So far, none of her children showed symptoms, but how was this going to go? Her two oldest kids could handle meals, but how long could they manage the young ones? The laundry? Keeping the peace..? How bad would this get?
Could she trust all 5 of them to stay in the house, when she was in bed?
Her temperature had risen higher. 102.9. The coughing was hard to control and painful. Her lungs hurt.
She called the CDC to ask them what to do…
Anxiety is a natural response to a situation with an unknown outcome.
And just because the outcome is unknown, it doesn’t mean you’re facing doom. That’s the thing about anxiety. It feels foreboding. Scary. Threatening.
But if you can decide to think about it differently, you just might find a way to relax a little…and patiently see what happens next.
If you’ve been watching the news or reading articles on the internet and you feel your heart rate increasing, turn off the TV for awhile, walk away from your computer, and take a short walk in the fresh air, do a little gardening, or go in the kitchen and cook something.
That heart rate rises to give you more energy to fight or run in a crisis, so put that energy to work for something productive and enjoyable.
An unsolicited act of kindness, no matter how small, can help you redirect your energy and focus, and the smile you bring to the recipient will give you good feelings that help you feel a little better, too.
Facetime or Skype a friend, and talk and laugh. Just because you’re isolated doesn’t mean you can’t continue to nurture your friendships, and show others you care. Keeping the connections in your life strong will gird up your own resilience to get through this challenge.
There are also apps for your phone like Marco Polo, where you can talk back and forth and see each other’s faces. Just being able to talk face-to-face can help you relax, feel connected, and encouraged.
Because COVID-19 anxiety has gone viral, and the people you care about are comforted hearing from you.
And remember that by isolating yourself at home, you’re taking care of others. Odds are that you’re likely to recover fine if you’re infected with the COVID-19 but you quarantine yourself for the sake of those who might not recover as easily.
When you isolate yourself, it’s an act of kindness toward all of those people whose paths you would cross.
We’re all surrounded with people who have compromised immune systems, or underlying conditions, and we don’t even realize it. A colleague who suffers from Crohn’s Disease, Type 1 Diabetes, leukemia, or any other immunocompromised condition could be made critically ill by contact with you.
And any of the people you see at the grocery store, on the train, in an airplane, or on an elevator are protected because you chose to isolate yourself until you’re no longer contagious.
Now, even though we talk about productive things to do with the anxiety you might feel, sometimes you just can’t manage it.
Sometimes you need help.
And just as we’ve used IV ketamine treatment for depression, it’s also shown significant efficacy for anxiety. We know that anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, don’t we?
We know that that breakdown for treatment effectiveness goes something like this:
About a third of patients with depression improve with their first trial of antidepressants, and another one third or so respond well to a second trial of a different antidepressant or combination. That leaves about 1/3 who aren’t helped by that method of treatment. The ones we might call treatment resistant.
Still it’s not so much that those patients are treatment resistant, it’s that traditional antidepressants are the wrong treatment for those patients.
But that group of patients shows wonderful response to IV ketamine treatment, with 80% responding remarkably well.
At Innovative Psychiatry, we’re seeing patients every week who walk out with their heads high, a spring in their step, and full of anticipation and joy about what lies ahead.
And the resilience these patients can enjoy that IV ketamine can supply, can give them the flexibility and resilience to bounce back in the atmosphere we’re challenged with right now in this country and the world.
It’s so good to know you don’t need a hospital stay to receive this extraordinary treatment. You can come to the office, relax in a private area, and after your infusion, slip out quickly and head home with a ride.
Don’t let our current challenges tear down your confidence in your ability to manage your life. COVID-19 anxiety has gone viral, but it doesn’t have to affect you.
If you’re part of that last 1/3 and need relief, call us.
We’re here to help you safely receive treatment, so you can emerge with a new outlook on your life, new energy and resilience to face these challenges, and new hope and joy to build your future.
To the fresh new blooming of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.