CORONAPHOBIA: What is it and how does this disease manifest itself?

In the world, more than 364 million people have had COVID-19 and more than 5 million deaths from the infection have been recorded. Since November 2021, the WHO has released the new variant, which has been the most transmissible to date. Ómicron led to overflowing testing centers and hospitals, generating an irrational fear, called “Coronophobia”in those who have not yet been infected.

The coronophobia it is a relatively new problem since it is a phobia specifically associated with COVID-19, it can affect people with a high or medium-high level of anxiety more quickly.

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In Chile, more than 1 million people over the age of 15 suffer from anxiety disorder, which corresponds to 6.5% of the population according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO). Similarly, a third of the Chilean population is affected by some type of mental illness, such as anguish, stress or depression.

For basil whiteResearch Professor of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the International University of Valencia – VIU, the pandemic generated by COVID-19 eroded the mental health of a large part of the population, creating phobias and mental disorders associated with the transmission of the virus.

“Coronophobia is excessive anxiety about contracting the virus. Thus, individuals with this extreme fear tend to experience a set of unpleasant physiological symptoms triggered by thoughts or information related to the disease. This phobia is truly disabling in that it is strongly related to functional impairment and psychological distress and therefore has important implications for mental well-being.» highlights the VIU teacher.

Other symptoms associated with the phobia, which describes Arantxa Duque Moreno, Director of the Career in Psychology of the International University of Valencia and Doctor in Neurosciencesare difficulty concentrating on other tasks or avoiding activities even in safe contexts, when already vaccinated, excessive self-observation of symptoms, obsession with cleanliness and hand hygiene, and constant performance of the detection test COVID, fear of infection through physical contact or closed spaces, constant fear of death or infection of loved ones, social isolation and loneliness, massive job loss or financial instability.

Also, “Related to excessive fear of contagion, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is notable, another anxiety-related disorder whose symptoms may be exacerbated in the context of COVID-19. This disorder is defined as the presence of obsessions, compulsions or both in people. says the VIU teacher.

It is worth noting that obsessions are recurrent and persistent unwanted thoughts, impulses or images.

For example, in the context of the pandemic, the idea of ​​infecting oneself or infecting loved ones and, secondly, compulsions may appear to deal with the discomfort generated by the obsessions in the form of repetitive behaviors that the person applies inadvertently. rigid way.

Frequent hand washing has been proposed as another preventive measure against infection, however, this behavior is usually a frequent compulsion of OCD associated with contamination.

Knowing its importance American Psychiatric Association (APA)is developing tools with valid psychometric properties for a correct diagnosis of this disorder.