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Anxiety mounts for people as coronavirus disrupts daily lives

With a new normal filled with quarantines and social distancing the stress of change can build up.

HOUSTON, Texas — The impact coronavirus has had on people’s daily lives is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

The changes and disruptions to people’s normal routines has led to anxiety and stress for many.

For some people when it rains, it pours.

The saying can mean a lot of things to different people.

With a new normal filled with quarantines and social distancing the stress of change can build up.

KHOU mental health expert Bill Prasad said, “When we have gaps in information sometimes we fill in those gaps with the dark neighborhood in our heads. We come up with 'what if' scenarios.”

He said actual rain can trigger anxiety or a feeling of being lost to people who lived through Harvey or other natural disasters.

“This aligns with a feeling of helplessness from the COVID virus so it can be very difficult for people to handle it,” he said.

Prasad said most people have a hard time dealing with the unknown so washing their hands or staying inside isn’t enough.

“Sometimes that has led to panic buying like what we saw at grocery stores and sometimes it’s lead to panic selling as what we saw on Wall Street,” Prasad said.

He said anxiety symptoms can also confuse people.

“Some patients have told me that they’ve had headaches and they felt, ‘Well, I might be infected,’” Prasad said. “But it was a migraine headache or it was simply a tension headache and a tension headache is caused by anxiety.”

Other symptoms include feeling sweating and warm.

He said, “It can get someone nervous because that could indicate a fever. In this particular cause it just indicates anxiety.”

There’s things you can do to fight anxiety.

Prasad said exercise, pray or mediate.

Next, make a list of friends you want to talk to and call a person each day.

For couples: do daily check-ins to see how the other is doing.

Prasad said they’re little things that will keep people mentally healthy during this unprecedented time.

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Coronavirus symptoms 

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, headaches and stomach issues.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
  • Follow social distancing

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

Get complete coverage of the coronavirus by texting 'FACTS' to 713-526-1111.