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One Year After the Pandemic: Are We Experiencing Coronaphobia?

Young woman in a facemask on her balcony

How are we doing one year after the pandemic? How have we weathered this stressful journey? In an effort to comfort and relate to one another, we often use the phrase, “we’re all in the same boat.” But, that’s not necessarily true—we are in the same storm, but not the same boat. Some of us may be ship-wrecked, some of us may be lost at sea, and others may be safely docked. The spectrum of suffering has varied—some of us have lost loved ones, others have lost jobs, while others don’t even believe the virus exists.

Now, we are entering a new phase of anxiety and uncertainty. As more and more of us are getting vaccinated and our country is beginning to reopen, what about those of us who are unable to get vaccinated or unsure about getting vaccinated? What about our children who can’t yet be vaccinated and either may be at risk for contracting “multisystem inflammatory syndrome,” or be carriers of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) to our compromised loved ones? Don’t we have to use the same precautions as if we were not vaccinated to protect our family?

Though many of us are excited to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, others of us are more fearful than ever. Rightfully so. We have endured trauma. Our lives have been turned upside down. We have been isolated from our family and friends, we have had to adapt to working from home…with our children who have had to adapt to learning from home—in other words, we have had to learn how to function in the face of crisis. And now, after working so hard to adjust to the isolation, boredom, and restlessness, we’re just being thrown back out into the COVID-contaminated world?

Coronaphobia is a new disorder that has emerged thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers who helped coin the term late last year say coronaphobia is a new type of anxiety specific to COVID-19. Coronaphobia is defined an excessive triggered response of fear of contracting the virus causing COVID-19, leading to accompanied excessive concern over physiological symptoms, significant stress about personal and occupational loss, increased reassurance and safety seeking behaviors, and avoidance of public places and situations, causing marked impairment in daily life functioning.

As I speak with many of my clients, I hear a lot of anxiety about returning to the workplace, and resuming life as normal, vaccinated or not. After all, home became a place where we could control what was so out of control. We governed who and what came into our homes. We decided on the amount of risk we were willing to accept. We regulated what information we consumed when we consumed it, and how much we consumed. Home became these perfectly curated environments that were tailored to our level of anxiety and fear.

Re-emerging into our world will be a readjustment for all of us...again. And for some of us, it will be harder than others. If you notice that you’re having a hard time meeting your commitments or completing your “must-do” tasks because you are panicking about catching the virus, this may be an indication that you’re experiencing coronaphobia. Seeking professional help in managing your anxiety can be helpful.

Let’s try not to judge one another. We don’t know what it’s like to live in someone else’s reality. So, even when you think that you’ve gone through the same situation as another person, be careful not to assume you experienced it in the same way as others. You never know exactly what someone else may be going through.

Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, New Jersey is offering FaceTime, Zoom or phone sessions. Please feel free to call 908-322-0112 to schedule an appointment or visit our website at or visit us on FaceBook.


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