Nautilus

Let’s Talk About Our Health Anxiety Over COVID-19

The hint of a headache at your temples, an itch at the back of your throat, a fever so slight you barely feel it. You know that it’s probably nothing, but, still, part of you wonders: Could it be?

In this new reality where quarantine is a daily reality and even a trip to the grocery store could prove life-threatening, many of us are, understandably, feeling stressed. Not surprisingly, there’s a long list of emotional consequences associated with our current situation, ranging from insomnia to increased alcohol consumption and even post-traumatic stress symptoms. But among the most concerning possible psychological outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic is what’s known as health anxiety—the belief that bodily sensations are symptoms of being ill.1

“Almost everyone experiences health anxiety to some degree,” write Gordon Asmundson and Steven Taylor in a recent editorial for the . The authors explain that being vigilant can help identify early signs of health problems, but excessive worry makes us prone to misinterpreting bodily sensations. That creates more anxiety, which influences

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