Since its appearance, at the end of 2019, COVID-19 turned on the alerts and radically changed the way they treat each other. MOblivious by the fear of contracting a disease about which very little was known, we began to fear our fellow men, and this fear became a habit within social relationships. Today, experts have paid attention to the new conventions and assure that it is a neoalteration, they call it “coronaphobia”, the excessive fear of being infected.
In a study, published in “PubMed”, the most recent information on the psychological effects generated by the pandemic was collected. Due to the way in which the disease spread in a matter of months around the world, researchers have assured that it produced a global crisis in which the rhythm of people’s lives was altered in every way. When people were prevented from leaving the house, from meeting with family and friends, as well as susceptible to being infected by a potentially deadly virus, insecurity, anxiety and fear weighed on a general basis.
Despite the fact that the feelings of uncertainty were motivated by different circumstances, depending on the region, socioeconomic condition, health status and many other factors, the specialists concentrated on identifying the most important causes that triggered them. For this, they resorted to open and authorized databases; among them, PubMed, Science Direct, Scopus and Google Scholar.
The results indicated that the first cause of “coronophobia” -a term coined during 2020- it was the excessive fear of being infected with COVID-19, to the point of registering suicide attempts. Within the population groups most affected by uncertainty were women, younger adults, divorced people, health workers, as well as those who already had previous mental health problems.
However, the scholars recognized that this does not necessarily mean that they are the population groups that are most emotionally vulnerable to the effects of the disease, but rather that they are those that are more confident in approaching health systems to treat mental health problems.
Another of the findings that caught the attention of the researchers was that this fear was not motivated only by the fears that are justifiably present during a pandemic, but they were inflamed by the disinformation that overloaded social networks, where the majority of wrong or contradictory data has been shared. Similarly, they pointed out that the media played an important role in disseminating false information, because in the face of ignorance of SARS-Cov-2, much information was made public that was not true.
For the authors of the research, the fear of contracting COVID-19 derives from other fears that already existed around other diseases, this is how they related this condition to “nosophobia”, which is when a person fears or suspects being infected by an imaginary disease, because although the coronavirus is a highly transmissible pathogen, especially through its new variant -ómicron- if the If a person protects himself adequately, with measures such as the proper use of face masks, keeping social distance and refraining from going to crowded places, the chances of contracting the disease are considerably reduced.
In the end, the experts recognized that people with mental health problems should especially protect themselves from contracting COVID-19, since this disease has been associated with worsening emotional, cognitive and behavioral responses, which could lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts to take their own lives, while the other part of the population could develop alterations in daily life suffering from gastrointestinal discomfort, loss of sleep, lack of encouragement to carry out work or academic tasks and estrangement from loved ones.
Finally, those responsible for the work considered that the collection of data related to fear and COVID-19 will help to implement effective aid strategies that comprehensively address the feelings generated by and during the pandemic.