Mental health check measures your ‘coronaphobia’

Are you experiencing feelings of heightened stress, anxiety or depression? There’s now a mental health test to determine if you’re suffering with ‘coronaphobia’. 

If there was one word to sum up 2020 it would be: stressful. The current global situation has heavily affected the mental health of millions worldwide, causing distress, fear, anxiety, and depression – or in short, ‘coronaphobia’.

Sure, you might pick up on feelings of stress and uncertainty, but would you actually know how to recognise if coronaphobia is truly taking over your life? That’s where the Coronavirus Anxiety Project and its Coronavirus Anxiety Scale (CAS) could come in hand.

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Sherman A. Lee, a professor of psychology at Christopher Newport University in Virginia, developed the psychological instrument after a personal health scare in February 2020 caused heightened emotions and fear for him and his wife.

“Knowing how emotionally painful and debilitating fear and anxiety can be in people’s lives, I began the project of developing a test to identify those who may need help with this specific form of anxiety, also known as “coronaphobia”,” Lee said in an interview with Psychology Today.

To create the CAS, Lee collected online survey data from 775 adults who experienced significant fear and anxiety from the coronavirus. He then isolated five fear and anxiety symptoms that could distinguish between who were “clinically” anxious about the coronavirus and people who were worried but not functionally impaired by their emotions. The five symptoms – dizziness, sleep disturbance, tonic immobility, appetite loss and nausea/abdominal distress – form the bases of the CAS.

The study is the first of its kind to prove coronaphobia as a clinical condition, and Lee says it “should be taken seriously by health professionals and policymakers”.

“The results also showed that people suffering from coronaphobia experienced high levels of hopelessness, spiritual crisis, and suicidal ideation,” Lee continued. “These individuals also tended to cope with their anxiety by using alcohol or drugs and were disabled by their fear and anxiety.”

Suffice to say, if you feel you’re struggling with anxiety, the last thing you probably want to be doing is turning to the internet to solve the problem. If you or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the 24-hour Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

Mental health professionals are available 24/7 at the beyondblue Support Service – 1300 22 46 36 or online here for a chat (3pm-12am AEST) or email response.

More essential coronavirus reading:

Read up on why 239 scientists wrote a letter to WHO arguing coronavirus is airborne, be aware of the ‘hidden symptom’ of COVID-19 carriers, prepare yourself for the long-term mental health effects of the pandemic, get your sweat on at home with these free online workouts before reviving your over-washed hands with this DIY balm, and then console yourself with these unexpected joys.