Shortness of breath: Is it stress, anxiety or a symptom of COVID-19?

Posted at 9:22 PM, Mar 16, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — A symptom of COVID-19 is causing some additional stress and anxiety from those with underlying conditions.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly 40 million people in the United States experience an anxiety disorder in a year.

'Shortness of Breath' is listed as a symptom along with a fever and/or cough for the novel coronavirus according to the Center for Disease Control.

However, the pandemic in itself might be the reason for additional stress and anxiety, not the symptom of COVID-19.

"I think a lot of folks are experiencing some anxiety and some stress naturally as we're in the face of something that's really unprecedented and just a lot of uncertainty," said Amy Blunck, a Mental Health Counselor at Weber State University. "I think every one of us has experienced some kind of stress or anxiety as a result of this particular pandemic but definitely societally a lot of us are experiencing stress and anxiety and depression and just feeling stressed out."

According to the Utah Department of Health, the 'shortness of breath' symptom typically goes hand-and-hand with fever and/or cough.

Social media and the constant need for new information may be contributing to some of the stresses and pre-existing anxiety.

"You've got to think about what you can do to get that positive mentality because if you're online constantly scrolling, looking for the next update you're going to work yourself into a panic," said Melissa Rose Player, a life coach with New Bloom Coaching. "Make sure you're checking your sources, just because you see something posted on Facebook does not mean it's real information."

The World Health Organization also recommends trying to access information at specific times of day and finding accurate, sourced information from reputable organizations and news outlets.

Helpful links:

The American Psychological Association shares tips to help manage stress during the pandemic.

In terms of stress, anxiety and dealing with COVID-19, the CDC has numerous resources on their website.