From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Fake News and Misinformation Consumption During Coronavirus Pandemic Leads to Increased Anxiety

The Coronavirus pandemic has been found to be responsible for an increase in stress and anxiety amongst citizens, especially those that are already suffering with an existing condition.

Common reactions described by citizens include fear, sadness, anxiety, anger, helplessness and being overwhelmed. This in turn can manifest in physical ailments such as an upset stomach, palpitations and insomnia.

One of the key factors in increasing people’s psychological response to the ongoing crisis is the consumption of fake news or sensationalist content. The World Health Organisation has recognised this fact and has advised people to avoid watching, reading, or listening to any content that makes them feel distressed.

Panic attacks are also increasing related to excessive worrying for unsubstantiated reasons. These can be triggered by reading fearmongering  news articles and reports about the spread of the virus.

British mental health charity, Mind told the media that the impact of the crisis is taking a toll on mental health.

“We know that the coronavirus and its impact are causing stress and worry for many people. If you already have a mental health problem, it’s possible that the worries of coronavirus may be affecting how you’re coping,” said Stephen Buckley from the charity.

In addition to this, the psychological impact of quarantine or lockdown should also be taken into account. The loss of freedom, separation from friends and family, uncertainty about the future, health concerns, and economic worries can create dramatic effects. 

Kathryn Kinmond, a psychotherapist in Staffordshire and a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy said that uncertainty is a key driver of anxiety. “Coronavirus gives rise to lots of uncertainty, and this has particular resonance with people who suffer from anxiety.” 

It was also observed that those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder were particularly triggered by the pandemic.

In order to mitigate these uncertain times, it is advised to avoid consumption of content from unreliable or tabloid sources. Additionally, you can learn about fact checking here. Be mindful when sharing content with others that they may be dealing with anxiety or stress related to the pandemic and that such content may be harmful.