Are you feeling anxious about getting back to “normal life” after the pandemic? You are not alone in this feeling. Studies show that many people are feeling apprehensive about going out in public and engaging in group gatherings. One symptom of post-pandemic anxiety is avoidance perhaps due to fear of becoming infected. You can experience these stressors even if you did not contract COVID and even if you do not know anyone who contracted COVID. Before the pandemic, you may have gone to your favorite restaurants and to the houses of friends and relatives. Even though many American’s are vaccinated you may still feel that these places are unsafe to visit. Why is this? Studies suggest that because these places were once considered “danger zones” it is difficult for us to accept that the danger is now gone. If you feel that you still overthink the dangers of COVID post-pandemic, you are not alone. Furthermore, you may be leery about going out into public due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 variants. As humans, we’d like to know that COVID is 100 percent gone, which is not possible currently. So, experts suggest gradual steps back to normal, such as a 15-minute walk, an hour out in public during a low crowd time, and completing one to two errands instead of five during one outing. Experts also suggest being aware of your limits and making others aware of them. If a friend or family member suggests meeting or inviting you over, be clear about what needs to be in place before meeting and be prepared for pushback.
In the post-pandemic world, therapists are seeing many patients who are now experiencing social anxiety in work and social settings. During the pandemic, it was easier to avoid these situations. However, avoidance can easily become dysfunctional. Doctors suggest that if COVID positivity is low in your town or city and you are vaccinated but still avoid public situations, you may want to seek help. There are therapies for anxiety post-pandemic such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Author: Ehab Abdallah, M.D.
Dr. Abdallah obtained his medical degree from Alexandria University in Alexandria, Egypt. He completed his residency training in psychiatry at West Virginia University. Dr. Abdallah is a triple board-certified in General Psychiatry, Consultation-Liaison (Psychosomatic) Psychiatry, and Addiction Psychiatry. Dr. Abdallah is experienced in treating psychiatric illness in people with complex medical/mental conditions and is an expert in addiction medicine. He is passionate about quality care.