Let’s Talk About the Fear Response and the Corona-19 Virus
Posted On March 14, 2020
I realize I have already posted about the coronavirus, but this is important information to understand. Please read on and I won’t post about it again unless I feel the need outweighs my sense of good writing. No, this has nothing to do with DID or mental health but it can sure as hell affect it.
The corona-19 virus has become something that people are terrified of getting. In response to this fear, people are hoarding everything from meat to toilet paper. However, being so afraid has an unexpected consequence, the lowering of the immune system’s ability to fight off disease.
This article will focus on the effects of fear on the human body and ways we can mitigate the danger that stress causes when there is a potentially fatal virus floating around.
Stress Hormones and the Human Immune System
The human body has a wonderful way of responding to danger. This response involves the amygdala and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) and how they affect the body.
When frightened, the amygdala recognizes the danger first and shoots out chemical signals to other parts of the body that trigger a cascade of stress hormones.
These hormones trigger responses in our bodies that include all of the following:
· The heart rate increases
· The blood pressure increases
· Blood is stolen from the digestive system for the legs and arms
· The body is flooded with epinephrine and norepinephrine
There are other brain regions not listed above that are vital for the fear response but there is no need to include more as anyone should be capable of gleaning the information already presented.
However, there is one other response. When the body is readying itself for fight/flight/ or freeze it takes resources away from the immune system making the person who is afraid unable to fight off disease as well as they might have done before the triggering event.
We Are Traumatizing Ourselves
By allowing ourselves to become terror-filled by the corona-19 virus, we are setting ourselves up for a lowered immune response and illness. In the process of being filled with fear, we are actually traumatizing ourselves and if it is not resolved quickly, it will make one sick.
Some will not get the corona-19 virus, but if exposed to another virus such as the common cold or flu A or B, they will be much more susceptible.
Let’s not forget mental health. Being in a constant state of fear will take an enormous toll on mental health as well. It is impossible not to become filled with anxiety and depression when one is living in a state of fear.
Take Appropriate Precautions
In no way am is this article suggesting that the corona-19 virus isn’t dangerous because it is. However, living in terror of catching it is actually more harmful than the virus itself.
Prevention is Worth More Than an Ounce of Cure and a Ton of Panic
Be proactive and pay attention to what the authorities are telling about the virus in terms of how it is spread and how severe it might be. Primarily, there are recommended guidelines spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.
These aren’t difficult instructions to follow and they could save you from unnecessary exposure.
Some Final Words
Is the corona-19 virus dangerous? Yes, especially if you are over sixty and/or have conditions such as COPD, asthma, diabetes, or any type of medical condition.
Should we panic? No. To panic is to invite instability not only in our own lives and bodies but also to our communities. Fear will lower your immune response and make you MORE vulnerable to contracting corona-19, not less.
Should we stock-up on goods just in case? No. Hoarding things will not prevent one from getting the virus either. Hoarding just makes it harder for everyone to find what they need from the store.
Good advice to all is to take heed of where you are and avoid large gatherings or crowds. Be mindful of who is about you. If you notice someone coughing or sneezing then you might want to move away. This is good advice all the time as the common cold is very contagious as are other relatively harmless viruses.
Above all else, look out for others. Don’t allow fear to keep you from checking on your neighbor or being kind to others. We are all in this crisis together and we need to draw on all our strengths such as compassion and empathy to get through this time of trouble.
“I think 80 percent of the population are really great, caring people who will help you and tell you the truth. That’s just the way it is.” ~ Tom Hanks
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” ~ Saint Augustine
“Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.” ~ Frank Herbert