Disease can spread through tension and stress

Information on fear, panic and worry

Fear and panic are normal and vital feelings!

The spread of the coronavirus is frightening many people. Fear is a normal emotional reaction that is even necessary for survival. It usually occurs in situations that could be dangerous to us in some way. Many people now fear physical dangers such as contagion, illness or even death. In addition, fear of loneliness or unemployment and existential fear can arise in the current crisis. Fear serves to prepare us for these challenges and to protect us from danger. Hence, fear is not fundamentally bad; it can help us react quickly to real threats by either fleeing or facing the danger.

This is how fear can be felt:
  • "I'm getting a heart attack"
  • "They'll laugh at me"
  • "I've got to get out of here"
  • Racing heart
  • dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Restlessness
  • Tension
  • Escape
  • Avoidance
  • deflection
A third of all people will have a panic attack at some point in their lives

Around a third of all people experience a fear or panic attack in addition to fear once in their life without being in acute danger. A panic attack is a sudden, intense and rapid fear reaction that reaches a climax in a few minutes. This leads to strong physical symptoms (such as palpitations, dizziness) and thoughts (e.g. "I'm dying"). Panic attacks often occur in very stressful and stressful times and situations.

When fear, panic and worry make you sick

Fear, panic and worry become a problem when:

  • they are inappropriately frequent and strong - especially in situations where there is no real danger
  • You begin to change your behavior (avoid sporting activities, control your body or bodily functions inappropriately often, often look for reassurance, take more medication or alcohol, etc.)
  • Avoid overly dreaded situations or activities
  • You feel that you can no longer control the beginning, intensity and duration of the fear, panic and worry
  • they cause great suffering
  • they are increasingly limiting your life
Tips to prevent fear, panic and worry:
  • Find out about the pandemic 1-2 times a day for a maximum of 1 hour (visit the official pages)
  • Try to exercise regularly (with friends via video broadcast or with guidance on the Internet
  • If possible, keep doing important activities (such as shopping)
  • Stay in the here and now: mindfulness exercises can help
  • Perform relaxation exercises (progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training)
  • Keep in touch with people (via phone, video chat or SMS
  • Agree on a fixed time at which you can brood for 15 minutes (e.g. brooding time from 4:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.)
  • Talk to caregivers about your fears and worries
  • reduce the time in which you consume scary information (e.g. false reports) or pictures about the pandemic
  • Reduce the time spent looking for symptoms or illnesses on the internet
  • Reduce constant feeling, listening in, checking symptoms or body functions
  • Try to avoid reinsurance behavior (e.g. constant phone calls to make sure nothing has happened to your partner), flight and the use of sedatives and alcohol

More about anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders occur relatively often!

Research to date has assumed that up to a third of people will suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. A distinction is made between various anxiety disorders:

Panic disorder

People experience repeated, unexpected panic attacks and as a result develop fear and worries about the recurrence of these panic attacks, the possible consequences (e.g., death) or people change their behavior (e.g. stop exercising).


Individuals experience intense anxiety or avoid situations where, in the event of a panic attack or physical symptoms occurring, help would be difficult to obtain or escape could be difficult or embarrassing. Fear occurs in a variety of different situations, such as public transport, crowds, or being in an unfamiliar environment.

Social phobia

Intense fear in situations in which people are exposed to the observation and assessment of others (interaction situations, exams, lectures). Even the expectation of such a situation triggers strong fear. If possible, social situations are avoided or only endured with great fear.

Specific phobia

Inappropriately strong fear when confronted with a dreaded situation (e.g. tight spaces), an animal, environmental events (e.g. thunderstorms, darkness) or blood, syringes and injuries. The expectation also triggers strong fear and people try to avoid the feared situations.

Generalized anxiety disorder

Individuals report constant feelings of anxiety and tension. The worries - often lasting for hours - relate to everyday problems or events and cover different areas of life (e.g. finances, partners, health, illness). The worries are often perceived as uncontrollable. In addition to anxiety and tension, people also report difficulty concentrating, irritability and difficulty falling asleep.

Fear of illness

People report increased anxiety and worry about getting sick or suffering from a serious illness. Individuals often control and monitor their body or bodily functions, and very often see a doctor.
People who suffer from anxiety disorders for years without further treatment often develop other mental illnesses such as depression or addiction disorders as a result.

How do anxiety disorders arise? Why don't fear, panic and worry go away on their own?

Various factors can play a role in the development of anxiety disorders (e.g. temperament, heredity, learning experience, strain and stress). Although panic attacks and anxiety are not triggered by physical illnesses, there are illnesses such as hyperthyroidism that cause panic-like symptoms, for example. This is extremely rare. A thorough medical evaluation can reveal possible physical causes of anxiety and panic attacks.

The onset of fear and panic often occurs at a time when people are exposed to increased stress and strain. But why do fear and panic occur especially in stressful and stressful situations? Persistent stress (e.g. persistent social isolation, quarantine and accompanying worries about their consequences or relatives) can lead to an increased level of tension that cannot be relieved in the short term. If a stressor (e.g. quarrel, conflict) is added to the high level of tension, the threshold at which our body reacts with acute symptoms of stress, fear or panic is exceeded. Since the level of tension increases gradually with constant stress, the same stressor that was not a problem the day before can trigger anxiety, panic or worry the next day. In addition, short-term but very intense stress can trigger such fear and panic symptoms.

Role of tension and stress

In addition, learning experiences play an important role in the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders. Through certain learning experiences in life (e.g. experience of exclusion, overprotection in the parental home, sudden loss of family members due to illness / infection, infection with a virus) we can tend to perceive actually harmless situations, body symptoms, worries or thoughts as threatening or endangered connect. These catastrophic thoughts about situations, body symptoms, worries or thoughts (e.g. I could have a heart attack, I could have a serious illness) can in turn trigger anxiety and the associated anxiety symptoms such as racing heart, sweating, restlessness.

As a result, the catastrophic thoughts, fear and body symptoms can reinforce and build up each other. We then often try to reduce these unpleasant body symptoms, thoughts or intense fear, e.g. by distracting ourselves, fleeing the unpleasant situation or trying to control our body. Avoidance, flight, distraction, reinsurance behavior (e.g. constant calls to determine whether everything is okay with the partner), taking medication and alcohol or safety signals (e.g. talisman, being accompanied by a known person) often have a short-term relief and may reduce anxiety. In the long term, this behavior leads to fear and panic appearing more frequently, more intensely and uncontrollably and limiting life more and more, putting a lot of strain on you and suffering from it.