Excitement over loosening COVID-19 restrictions comes with anxiety for some who fought virus

Updated: Apr. 27, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Researchers are noticing a link between COVID-19 survivors and mental health issues like anxiety.

According to a new study, one in three people who survive the virus is diagnosed with a neurological or psychiatric condition within six months.

“When the pandemic first hit people were experiencing a lot of anxiety because their routine had to change pretty drastically,” Novant Health psychotherapist Soltana Nosrati said.

Nosrati said the fear of the unknown caught many people off guard.

“After a few months they kind of got used to the way things were and like most things we adjusted,” she said.

As restrictions loosen in North Carolina, she says anxiety is returning.

“They’re saying ‘oh hey let’s go back to the office’ so I’m getting a lot of patients coming in saying ‘hey I’m a little uncomfortable with going back,’” Nosrati said.

That anxiety can be even higher among people who know the toll COVID-19 can take first hand.

“I got it in September 2020 and it wasn’t easy,” Charlotte resident Shane Bird said. “It’s not what I expected being a 28-year-old who is healthy and fit. I was sick for a good 10 days.”

Bird said he had extreme exhaustion and headaches and still experiences brain fog.

“Yes, things are opening up, it’s great for our society, it’s what we all want deep down, but at the same time, I’m personally still nervous about doing some of the things I used to be doing,” Bird said.

It’s why he said he’s protecting himself.

“I’ve gotten one of two shots so far and I’m excited to get my second one because it will make me feel a lot better personally,” he said.

Nosrati said the vaccine is a critical step in all of this, on top of learning how to cope.

“Take a really deep breath, give yourself time to adjust,” she said. “Instead of beating yourself up and saying I shouldn’t feel this way, well, lots of people are feeling this way.”

Nosrati said it’s important to talk about how you’re feeling, and if you’re struggling you should reach out to your doctor.

Bird said he hopes other young people prioritize getting the shot because he learned firsthand that just because you’re young, it doesn’t mean you’re invincible.

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