Emotional contagion: Coronavirus threat can take a toll on mental health

Emotional contagion: Coronavirus threat can take a toll on mental health

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Most people are staying home to avoid the coronavirus contagion.

Dr. Katherine Pannel of Right Track Medical Group in Oxford said an emotional one is spreading, too.

“Just like a viral contagion, it’s an instance where emotions are transferred from person to person. It’s almost like a rippled effect. And if it’s not taken care of and addressed in the now, it can actually last longer than a viral contagion," she said.

Harsh headlines through social media, recent unemployment and other factors related to COVID-19 can be triggering.

This ripple effect of emotions can be detected through self-awareness.

”When it becomes the primary focus of your day, it has taken too much of a toll on yourself. When you start getting snippy and irritable with others, or you’re sad and instantly tearful, you just have to take a moment. Just step back and really understand that it’s triggering you, it’s affecting you, and you have to deal with it," Pannel explained.

Experts suggest taking deep breaths and walking outside but Pannel said the studies show that it’s not enough.

“The number one way to deal with these emotions is to talk about them. Communication is huge. Talk about it with family and friends. I know we can’t all be together physically -- take out your phone, call them. FaceTime them. Really let them know what you’re feeling," she said.

If that doesn’t work, Pannel said it is important to seek mental health help.

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