Fear of COVID-19 reinfection plagues many survivors

Many COVID-19 survivors say they are experiencing fear, panic and anxiety about contracting the virus again, reports STAT

Several survivors told the publication how anxiety of being reinfected creeps into their everyday lives. Jarrod Castillo, a 24-year-old California man, said he is constantly on edge about getting the virus again and questions whether a runny nose from allergies could actually be COVID-19. His mother Leticia is an intensive care unit nurse who also contracted the virus. She said she is extremely concerned that renewed exposure to the virus at work will cause a reinfection. 

"I'm so anxious every time I go out. My heart starts beating fast, and I have even more trouble breathing," she told STAT. "I've developed something like a phobia."

Many patients' fears have been magnified after hearing about new research this week detailing three documented cases of COVID-19 reinfection in Hong Kong, Belgium and the Netherlands. While the research poses questions about how long immunity may last, psychologist Mary Moffit, PhD, warned against jumping to conclusions too soon. 

"This may not represent the worst-case scenario, although that may be the initial reaction of patients traumatized by this virus," Dr. Moffit, an associate professor at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, told STAT. "Focusing on what we can control today, attending to what we need to improve our well-being here and now, is the most effective strategy to cope with future uncertainty."

As part of this focus, psychologists and respiratory therapists have turned to mindfulness, cognitive therapy and breathing techniques to help treat COVID-19 patients' anxiety. 

More articles on patient experience:
Moving toward a 'new normal': How hospitals are convincing patients it's safe to come back
Cleveland Clinic's CXO: 4 important promises to patients
Lehigh Valley Hospital apologizes after patients report meal delays

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