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Coping with COVID Shame

  • Category: Coronavirus
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
Coping with COVID Shame

You just tested positive for COVID-19. You may suddenly become overwhelmed with anxiety or guilt. Your mind becomes flooded with thoughts, “What will my friends think?” “What do I tell work?” or “I don’t want to deal with this.” You are not alone.

A Johns Hopkins project found that 1 in 4 Americans attach some form of shame to COVID-19 and that 42% of Americans agree with the sentiment that people who get COVID-19 behaved irresponsibly.

This perceived stigma causes a hesitancy to seek testing or care and a reluctance to notify others of exposure, both of which could lead to further spread of the virus. Others may be afraid to upset their friends or family with news of their COVID-19 symptoms after a get-together.

Coping with Covid shame can be difficult, but feelings of guilt or anger following a positive Covid test are normal. It’s normal to try to figure out the ‘why’ and place the blame on someone or something, including yourself. Remind yourself that it’s helpful to know you have a positive result because you can take precautions to stop the spread. Tell yourself there are many different ways you, or they, could have been exposed. Remember, even if you are taking precautions like wearing a mask and socially distancing from others, there’s still the possibility for exposure. If you feel guilt ask yourself, “Have my actions led to my exposure?”

Removing the COVID-19 stigma is a community effort. The Johns Hopkins report encourages us to be open and honest with each other. If someone you know notifies you of their COVID-19 diagnosis, thank them and let them know you appreciate their honesty. Likewise, if you test positive or develop symptoms extend the same courtesy to others you have come in contact with. Communication and empathy can go long way in keeping people safe and shutting down the stigma and shame of COVID-19.