Anxiety aid

The number of adults suffering from anxiety skyrocketed due to COVID-19 — here are some ways to cope

Ashley Pelletier, Associate Arts and Life Editor

Anxiety affects 40 million people over the age of 18 in the United States, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. That is nearly 20% of all adults in the country during the average year. 

Graphic By Michael Clement

In 2020, COVID-19 changed the way Americans live their lives. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that the percentage of adults with some form of anxiety disorder doubled in 2020. Ariela Reder, director of counseling at Quinnipiac University, said the counseling center had to deal with an unprecedented need from students who were unexpectedly sent home in March 2020. 

“Last spring, when everyone went home immediately … people were adjusting and were at home,” Reder said. “For a lot of people, being at home is not a good place. There are students who, unfortunately, going home was not a good thing for them. Luckily, we were able to support transition very quickly via Zoom … Unlike previous years, we saw students during the summer. In previous years, we wouldn’t. Usually students would go down in the spring and then pick up in fall.”

While there are a greater number of people struggling with anxiety, it is important to remember that physical health problems can arise from extended periods of anxiety. Joshua Haight, assistant professor of psychology at Quinnipiac, said there can be many consequences from chronically untreated anxiety. 

“When you’re in this state of fight or flight for too long, it begins to wear on your body,” Haight said. “You lose sleep, you have a reduced immune system function. There’s a variety of negative effects that can be seen following long-term autonomic nervous system activity.”

If you think that you may be dealing with an unusual amount of anxiety, there are strategies that can help you cope. 

  1. Seek out a counselor. Quinnipiac offers free counseling to students. To start seeing a counselor, email [email protected] or call 203-582-8680 #1. 
  2. Reach out to your primary care provider to discuss options. They can help connect you to services that are covered by your insurance or can talk about the possibility of anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication. 
  3. Practice meditation. Breathing techniques and mindfulness associated with meditation can help clear your mind of thoughts and worries brought on by the pandemic. 
  4. Take a break from technology. In a world full of Zoom meetings and social media, this is not easy, but unplugging can give you a break from anxiety-inducing news feeds.
  5. Enjoy your favorite media. A good book, movie or TV show can briefly help you focus on something fun. 
  6. Talk with someone you trust. If you find you are worrying about things you think are unrealistic, a friend or family member may help you put those thoughts to rest. 
  7. Remember there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Millions of Americans have or are going through similar plights.  

I have dealt with some form of anxiety for the past eight years. I have seen numerous counselors, worked through a plethora of medication and tried every trick in the book. It’s possible that these ideas might not be ideal for you, but don’t lose hope. Whether you are anxious because of COVID-19 or you already struggle with an anxiety disorder, know that there are people out there who are going through similar situations. You are not alone.