Managing anxiety during COVID-19

by | Coronavirus - COVID-19, Mental Health

Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney

Managing anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic is a really common question. I think it’s normal to feel a little bit worried. It’s normal to be concerned. It’s normal to be indeed worried about your family or your own health.

The first thing is to recognise whether the anxiety is moving from being what would be termed normal worry into actually excessive anxiety. So, if you find yourself worrying all the time. If you find yourself not sleeping. If you find yourself constantly going to your phone to see what’s going on. Or constantly looking at the news, that may be a sign that you are becoming excessively anxious or excessively worried.

And in those circumstances, it’s important that you do something about it. And, I’ve talked about what are some of the things that you can do about it and these include having a plan, having distracting activities, exercising regularly, not using drugs or alcohol excessively.

If though, you feel you are doing all the right things, but you are continuing to worry excessively it’s very important that you speak to your doctor or, indeed, draw on the various resources the Federal Government has funded to help people at this time. That’s organisations such as Lifeline, Beyond Blue and headspace, which do have people available 24/7 to provide the sort of advice you may need.

Mental health helplines

If you or someone you know is feeling distressed and/or having suicidal thoughts, see your doctor, phone one of these helplines or click on the links below for online web chat counselling or support. Call 000 if life is in danger.

Lifeline (24 hours) 13 11 14
Kids Helpline (for young people aged 5 to 25 years) 1800 55 1800
Beyond Blue Support Service (24 hours) 1300 22 4636
MensLine Australia (24 hours) 1300 78 99 78
SANE Helpline – mental illness information, support and referral 1800 187 263
Suicide Call Back Service (24 hours) – free counselling support 1300 659 467