ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — As the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb in Georgia, Psychiatrist Dr. Bruce Hoffman said it’s sparking more fear and panic in his patients than he’s seen in his 40 years of practice.

“There are some people who are having intense anxiety responses, almost to the point of paralysis,” he said.

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Hoffman said people often fill in the blanks in unfamiliar situations like coronavirus, imagining worst case scenarios that affect their mental health.

He said getting the facts about the virus can relieve some of the stress.  “Going to a website, such as the CDC, one can get good factual information,” said Hoffman, also saying a healthy lifestyle can decrease the anxiety.  He continues, “Deep breaths, take a little break, go out and take a walk.”

His biggest recommendation is connecting with other people, although it could pose a challenge for some, as folks take measures to follow social distancing guidelines.  Doctors have said you still want to keep a social distance from people of at least six feet, for now, to avoid catching or spreading the virus.  However, they recommend using social media and video conferencing tools like Zoom and FaceTime.  They also say phone calls to check on the elderly and those with no Internet access can help lower their anxiety as well.

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Child psychologists, like Dr. Avital Cohen with Peachtree Pediatric Psychology, have said coronavirus is also taking a toll on children’s mental health.  “Children just want to know that they’re safe and secure and they don’t know what this is, because most of us don’t know what this is,” she said.

Cohen said they’re looking for reassurance from their parents. And facts.  “You can definitely think about the age of your child, with how much detail you want to give them. we want to remain calm and give them just enough information so they know that we’re talking to them about it,” said Cohen.

She said children know what being sick is and that people can get better, so she said talking to them in those terms can help ease their concerns.

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For coronavirus facts and mental health tips, click here.