Earlier this year, we got a taste of our prepandemic lives when vaccines became available and Covid-19 cases decreased. People began to gather for social events again, we went back to our favorite restaurants, and travel resumed. Then the Delta variant emerged, and with it a lot of anger – mainly directed at those who are refusing vaccination.
As Delta continues to spread and there is news of the Delta-Plus and Lambda variants, we are facing the reimplementation of mask requirements and the possibility of closures and more interruptions to our lives. It’s no wonder people are angry and frustrated!
The Delta Variant And Pandemic Frustration (Why Do I Have So Much Anger All Of A Sudden?)
As we have transitioned through the pandemic, we’ve all had to quickly adapt to the almost-weekly changes the virus has laid at our feet. Many of us were already struggling with mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) or anxiety, before we ever heard of Covid-19. In the last year and a half, mental health concerns have continued to rise as we’ve gone through shut downs, job loss, illness in ourselves or loved ones, and more deaths than we thought possible in such a short time.
As a result, we now feel exceedingly unsafe – both in our daily lives and as we look forward into the coming months. Will we be able to be with loved ones during the holidays? Will we be able to work? To travel? To go into a store without worrying about catching a variant?
Unfortunately, the news media and social media have stoked our insecurities by sensationalizing information. Misinformation, confusion, and conspiracy theories have overtaken logic and science.
We’ve had so much waffling from experts about the correct procedures to keep us safe that it’s no wonder many people have given up trusting news reports. For example, at first the CDC said we didn’t need to wear masks, then everyone from two years and up was required to wear one. This spring, the CDC announced that we could drop mask wearing if we got vaccinated, now everyone is being told to wear a mask despite their vaccine status.
This back-and-forth has added to our frustration. One recent study by Serafini, et al reports that, “the poor or inadequate information from public health authorities may be a significant stressor because it provides inappropriate guidelines concerning call for actions…”
Is Pandemic Anger A Recognized Condition Now?
While not necessarily an “official” condition, pandemic anger is being recognized by mental health professionals the world over. There is even an unofficial term for it, patterned after a candy bar commercial: pandemic + angry = “pangry.”
Being pangry is understandable. Recently, we had restrictions lifted and “normal” life dangled in front of us by the CDC’s dropping of mask requirements and the promise of the new vaccines. Thus, we dared to hope we could put the pandemic behind us, but now emerging virus variants are changing that once again.
Officials are increasingly laying blame for rising cases at the feet of the unvaccinated. For the vaccinated who “did their part” by taking the jabs, resentment is building against those whom they feel aren’t doing their part to stop the spread of the virus.
Conversely, some of the unvaccinated don’t see the need to get the vaccine because they have acquired natural antibodies through their own Covid illness. Others may not trust what they are being told about the safety of the new type of vaccine and its mRNA delivery.
While this mistrust and confusion is understandable, many vaccinated folks are making decisions to stop seeing friends or loved one who aren’t complying with vaccination pleas, while the unvaccinated feel their rights are being trampled upon.
Dr. Hans Steiger, Professor Emeritus of Stanford’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, states that, “The COVID situation does present us with unprecedented challenges which interfere unrelentingly with all our lives. Social isolation may be the best tool to keep the virus under control, but this clashes directly with the need for social interventions helping us resolve anger and rage when being at the mercy of injustice and uncertainty. In such conflicts we need to remind ourselves that diatribes, lies and accusations will not move us forward; compassion empathy and the reminder that we are all in this horrible situation together will inspire us. Because in the end all of us can contribute to finding solutions to the problem.”
What Can I Do To Feel Better If I’m Feeling Anxious And Scared About COVID-19?
There are several things you can do to help reduce your anger and fear about the ongoing pandemic:
- Don’t let social media make your decisions for you. Social media comes to us filtered through the agenda of the person who posted it, so limit your exposure.
- Don’t let politics or partisanship influence your emotions too much. They will counteract logic instead of helping us see our needs clearly.
- Be kind in your judgments of others and their reasons for choosing to get vaccinated or not. You do not know their story. Perhaps they have a medical complication that precludes vaccination. Perhaps they saw or lost ill loved ones, making them adamantly pro-vaccines.
- Eat nutritious foods and get the best quality sleep you can.
- Begin or strengthen a meditation or mindfulness practice. These calming techniques help you become more resilient, which allows you to face your stressors more positively.
- Focus on finding balance in your life, through such activities and getting outside in nature, getting regular exercise, indulging in a favorite hobby or starting a new one.
- Maintain some social interaction either virtually or through safely distanced, masked in-person contact. Being with others is vitally important; isolation breeds depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
We Can Help
If you are experiencing emotional and mental health challenges during the pandemic or afterwards, our licensed therapists are available to help with your needs. We offer in-person sessions as well as video sessions. All conversations remain confidential under strict non-disclosure policies so that we can maintain absolute privacy while offering effective solutions.
For more information, contact the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email The Center today.