Why COVID-19 gives us anxiety

3D illustration of COVID-19
Photo credit Maksim Tkachenko/Getty Images

KYW Newsradio’s Medical Reports are sponsored by Independence Blue Cross. 

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor 
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — We all know the symptoms of COVID-19 by now, and we certainly understand the ways to protect ourselves, but there is one aspect of COVID-19 that may be the cause of our greatest anxiety: the ambiguous nature of the virus. 

Physicians and patients alike are used to looking at the percentages and determining how well or poorly they will do with an illness or condition. 

We know the risk factors for heart disease or lung cancer and we make choices in our lifestyle and play the percentages. 

But with COVID-19, we can't see the virus, we aren't sure what will happen to us if we get exposed, and we don't even know if there will be short- or long-term effects. This is what leads to anxiety and why we need to use the things we do know as anchors, like social distancing and wearing masks. 

If we focus on what we don't know at this time, such as the role of antibodies or the unknown long-term impact, anxiety can grow. 

We will get through this and it is important to not get overwhelmed by what we don't know.