By Shirley Smith
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
• Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
• Children and teens
• People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
• People who have mental health conditions, including problems with substance use
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call:
• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster
Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (TTY 1-800-846-8517).
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
• Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
• Changes in sleep or eating patterns
• Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
• Worsening of chronic health problems
• Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (samhsa.gov) website.
Taking care of yourself, friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
If you need more information on handling stress, contact Shirley Smith at the Hoke County Cooperative Extension office at 875-2162 or email her at email@example.com.
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