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Coping with Coronavirus Stress & Anxiety

The novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has caused untold suffering across the globe. While nations continue to develop strategies to deal with this pandemic, individuals are left coping with not only caring for our own health and safety but with the economic and psychological consequences as well.

Even for people who don’t contract the virus, the fear it inspires and the disruption it has on our daily lives can have far-reaching effects on health and mental well-being. This reality has resulted in an increase in the stress and anxiety levels experienced by a large portion of society.

The effects of stress and anxiety can not only cause or worsen conditions such as heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, and many other significant conditions, but stress and anxiety can also weaken our immune system and make us even more susceptible to getting sick!

Fortunately, there are several ways to relieve stress and anxiety during the coronavirus crisis, like beginning an exercise program, learning a new hobby, scheduling video calls with friends and family, and sticking to a routine.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to deal with stress and anxiety in a healthy way, making suggestions for improving your quality of life, as well as explaining how the Drake Institute helps patients overcome their stress symptoms without the use of potentially dangerous medications.

Why Trust Drake?

For 40 years, the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine has pioneered non-drug treatment protocols for a variety of stress and anxiety-related disorders, including depression, PTSD, panic attacks, and other similar conditions.

Our treatment protocols focus on providing patients with the ability to self-regulate their own neurophysiological response to stress and assists the brain in reorienting itself into a healthier pattern of functioning.

With treatment, time, and practice, this response can become “hard-wired” into the patient’s nervous system, resulting in long-term symptom relief without the need for additional treatments.

Additionally, unlike medications (such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication), our treatment protocols do not possess the same concern for side-effects and have been demonstrated to be safe.

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses refer to a large group of viruses that can cause upper respiratory symptoms like coughing and a runny nose.

However, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new virus identified in late 2019 which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11th, 2020.

Symptoms of COVID-19

According to the CDC[i], symptoms of COVID-19 typically include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated Shaking with Chills
  • Muscle Pain
  • Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • New Loss of Taste or Smell

Additionally, the CDC recommends seeking immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing any of the following emergency warning signs:

  • Trouble Breathing
  • Persistent Pain or Pressure in the Chest
  • New Confusion or Inability to Arouse
  • Bluish Lips or Face

How is COVID-19 Transmitted?

According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is transmitted through droplets released from coughing and sneezing.

What’s more, airborne transmission does appear to be possible in settings where certain treatments that generate aerosols are performed (e.g., intubation, open suctioning, bronchoscopy, etc.). [ii]

To reduce the risk of infection, the CDC and Surgeon General recommend wearing masks and maintaining 6-feet of social distancing.

Why Reducing Stress & Anxiety is Important

Dealing with the awareness that our health and safety are at increased risk, as well as the inevitable change in routine as society attempts to respond to this crisis, an increase in stress and anxiety is very likely for many of us. Not only is stress and anxiety uncomfortable and at times debilitating on its own, it can also cause or negatively affect several disorders and diseases, including:

Cardiovascular

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Angina Pectoris
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
  • Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias

Gastrointestinal

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Peptic Ulcer Disease

Neurologic

  • Migraine Headaches
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Strokes

Psychological

  • Panic Attacks
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Eating Disorders
  • Chemical Dependency / Substance Abuse
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Tension Headaches

Furthermore, stress and anxiety can also weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to becoming sick from things ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as COVID-19.

Stress and anxiety activate the body’s “fight or flight response”, and the longer the body stays in this state, the more likely the individual will start to experience the symptoms and disorders outlined above.

How to Deal with Stress & Anxiety Properly

Reducing stress and anxiety is more important than ever before, especially since the effects of these disorders can not only make you more susceptible to becoming sick but also worsen the effects of the virus if you should contract it.

Below are some of the best ways for reducing anxiety and stress.

Exercise

The COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted the exercise routines of millions of Americans across the country, as most gyms and workout facilities have shut down to prevent the spread of the virus.

However, just because your gym is closed doesn’t mean you can’t work up a sweat, build muscle, or train in your favorite sport.

If you’re looking to build up your cardio, sites like YouTube feature countless hours of videos offering high-intensity, weight-free workouts for you to enjoy.

And if you have the budget, purchasing a treadmill or a bike trainer is another viable option for improving cardiovascular performance. 

If you want to build muscle, there are a plethora of bodyweight exercises to choose from, including pushups, air squats, pull-ups, dips, etc., etc., many of which don’t require any equipment at all.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled the majority of sporting events (and even the Olympics!), many professional athletes have found fun and creative ways to train at home.

Even if you’re not used to working out regularly, now is a great time to start!

Not only is exercise one of the healthiest ways to reduce stress, but it also improves your immune system, which is especially important given the current pandemic. [iii]

Limit Your Consumption of News

Staying up to date on COVID-19 news is important, but consuming news for hours on end, especially bad news, can cause unnecessary worrying, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.

Instead, it might be better to watch or read the news every other day for a limited amount of time (say 30 minutes to an hour), as most days don’t carry any significant developments regarding the COVID-19 outbreak anyway.

Focus on Things You Can Control

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused massive societal changes in a short period of time, and many individuals across the country are having difficulty adjusting to their new way of life.

Although most of these changes are temporary, it’s hard not to feel like we’re losing control, especially since no one knows when the pandemic will end, when a viable vaccine will become available, or when the economy will recover.

And with so many states issuing shelter-in-place orders and shutting down our favorite “non-essential” restaurants and businesses, many of the things we used to enjoy are no longer available to us.

That said, some things are well within our control, like creating a daily routine and reducing our risk of infection.

Though it might sound mundane, creating a daily routine can help us cope with stress and adjust to spending more time indoors, especially for those of us who have been furloughed or let go from work due to the struggling economy.

Indeed, we may not be able to control the COVID-19 outbreak, we can still decide what time we wake up, when and how we’ll exercise, what time we’ll have our meals, when we’ll practice our hobbies, etc.

Additionally, taking steps to reduce our risk of infection can alleviate stress and anxiety as well. These steps include regularly washing our hands, wearing masks, and keeping our distance from others when we’re outside.

Learn a New Hobby or Skill

With so many of us spending more time indoors and less time out and about, now is the perfect time to pursue any interests we’ve neglected.

Interested in finally learning the guitar, violin, or the piano? There are plenty of free (and paid) lessons on the internet.

Always wanted to learn how to code? There are free lessons for that as well!

How about that novel you’ve always wanted to read or even write? Now you have a great excuse to never leave the house!

By pursuing a hobby or learning a skill, we can enrich our lives and create opportunities for future endeavors.

Schedule Online “Hang Out” Sessions with Friends & Family

Although social distancing is necessary to slow the spread and “flatten the curve”, it’s also causing many people across the US a great deal of pain and stress by leaving them feeling isolated.

Human beings are social creatures by nature, and having to cut ourselves off from our friends and family members is not an ideal situation.

However, stress-relieving activities like scheduling weekly online video calls and planning online events with those we care about most can go a long way in filling our need for human connection.

For example, the Chrome extension Netflix Party lets you watch anything on Netflix with a friend or family member by synchronizing the movie for everyone in the party.

When combined with a group video call, Netflix Party is a fun and exciting way to watch movies!

Catch Up on Your Favorite Shows & New Movies

Speaking of watching movies, now is a great time to catch up on your favorite shows or movies you may have missed.

While many of us are used to going out on weeknights and weekends, current shelter-in-place orders encourage citizens to stay home as much as possible.

And since staying home is a great way of avoiding infection, you might as well indulge in some good old-fashioned TV watching!

Donate to COVID-19 Relief Efforts

Finally, there are numerous organizations and charities providing support to struggling families and affected individuals in need of financial support.

Additionally, many of these organizations are also researching COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, so they must remain operational and well-funded.

For more information on where to donate, please take a look here.

Even if you can only donate a small sum, every little bit helps, and what’s more, you can feel good knowing you’ve done your part in helping the world get through this terrible pandemic.

Treating Stress & Anxiety at the Drake Institute

If stress and anxiety are still causing you to suffer despite your best efforts, it may be necessary to seek the help of experienced medical professionals.

For 40 years, the Drake Institute has helped patients overcome stress-related disorders and diseases through the use of advanced treatment technologies such as qEEG Brain Mapping, Neurofeedback, and Neuromodulation

These stress-reducing techniques help patients learn how to self-regulate and overcome their negative symptoms without the help of medications or other invasive procedures.

With time, this process of self-regulation becomes “hard-wired” into the patient’s nervous system, leading to long-term symptom relief without the need for continued treatment.

This treatment strategy stands in stark contrast to other potentially dangerous treatment protocols, like taking prescription medications. Not only does neurotherapy provide symptom relief without the concern for the types of negative side-effects often associated with medications, but individuals taking medication for their stress and anxiety disorders often find that they build up a tolerance to those medications. This tolerance can require a higher dosage be used in order to maintain the same level of symptom reduction, which in turn leads to an increased risk of side effects.

Brain Mapping

At the core of all our treatment protocols is qEEG brain mapping.

This treatment technology allows us to measure and map the patient’s brainwave activity, and once complete, the results are then processed through the FDA-registered normative data to identify deviations from what’s considered “normal” or “healthy” activity.

Once the dysregulation is identified, a custom treatment protocol using neurofeedback and neurostimulation can be developed to treat the patient’s specific dysregulation. This “retraining” of the brain results in significant symptom improvement in the majority of patients we treat.

In short, qEEG brain mapping provides us with a “window” into the patient’s brain and ensures that they receive exactly what they need to start experiencing symptom reduction as fast as possible.

Neurofeedback

Biofeedback and Neurofeedback treatment is a non-invasive, non-drug treatment protocol used to target dysregulated regions of the brain.

During neurofeedback, all that’s required are a few sensors placed on the patient’s head that record his or her current brainwave activity.

These sensors provide patients with real-time data and insight into their current brainwave activity, and more importantly, convert brainwave activity into a visual form patients can interpret and understand.

For example, brainwave activity captured through neurofeedback is often converted into a video game where a car is driving down a highway.

When the patient’s brain shifts into a healthier functioning frequency, the car moves and stays in the proper lane, and an auditory tone goes off. This tone is then repeated every half second, so long as the patient maintains this healthier brainwave pattern.

With the help of this video game, patients can learn how to hold onto and create healthier brainwave patterns. With time and repetition, the brain “learns” this new response and it actually becomes hard-wired in the patient’s nervous system.

Neuromodulation

The Drake Institute also uses Neuromodulation therapy to support, enhance, and accelerate therapeutic improvements achieved through biofeedback and neurofeedback.

This treatment protocol was first used to facilitate neuroplasticity and recovery from brain injuries such as strokes but has proven to highly effective for treating a variety of disorders, including anxiety, stress, depression, ADHD, and more.

Neuromodulation and neurostimulation are so effective that they are now used around the globe in many world-renowned medical centers, including Harvard University School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, and UCLA School of Medicine.

How does it work?

Once the location of the dysregulation is identified through qEEG brain mapping, neuromodulation is used to stimulate and guide the brain to mimic healthier functioning.

Over time, neuromodulation teaches the brain to fire in more optimal patterns, resulting in a reduction in negative symptoms.

Contact the Drake Institute Today

If you or anyone you know is suffering stress or anxiety due to COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to call us at 800-700-4233 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.

Our medical director, David Velkoff, M.D. has four decades worth of experience and supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs to ensure patients receive the exact they need.

 

[i][i] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

[ii] https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/modes-of-transmission-of-virus-causing-covid-19-implications-for-ipc-precaution-recommendations

[iii] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system

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To get the help you or a loved one needs, call now to schedule your no-cost screening consultation.

dr david velkoff headshot

“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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