Fear for COVID-19

Mertens, G., Novacek, D., McNally, R. & Engelhard, I.M

Fear is an adaptive emotion that motivates safety behaviors to protect oneself in the presence of danger. However, fear that is out of proportion to the actual threat, or that lasts too long, can lead to negative consequences. Also in the context of the coronavirus disease-19 (covid-19) pandemic, fear is an important motivator for safety behaviors, such as hygienic behaviors (e.g., hand washing), social distancing and willingness to vaccinate. However, fear of covid-19 is also associated with mental health problems, ‘panic shopping’, xenophobia, social inequality, and persistent safety behavior. In this article, we briefly review the recent literature on these positive and negative consequences of fear for covid-19 and make recommendations for policymakers to effectively manage fear and unrest during future pandemics.

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In een pandemie kan angst een belangrijke motivator zijn voor veiligheidsgedrag, zoals hygiënische gedragingen en sociale afstand houden. Het kan echter ook leiden tot psychische klachten, xenofobie en sociale ongelijkheid. In dit artikel bespreken we de recente literatuur over positieve en negatieve gevolgen van angst voor covid-19. Ook geven we een aantal aanbevelingen voor beleids­makers om angst en onrust tijdens een toekomstige pandemie in goede banen te leiden.

Met een dodental volgens de Wereld Gezondheidsorganisatie van meer dan zes miljoen mensen is de coronavirus (covid-19)-pandemie één van de dodelijkste pandemieën uit de recente geschiedenis (World Health Organization, 2020). Om de pandemie onder controle te houden voerden regeringen wereldwijd strikte maatregelen in om de verspreiding van het virus te beperken, waaronder reisrestricties, quarantainemaatregelen en lockdowns. Er was dus sprake van een duidelijke dreiging en onze vaste dagindeling viel weg. Het mag dan ook niet verbazen dat de covid-19-pandemie allerlei psychosociale reacties met zich meebracht, waaronder angst en onrust.

Angst is een evolutionair adaptieve emotie die ons in staat stelt adequaat te reageren op bedreigende situaties. Veiligheidsgedragingen gemotiveerd door angst (bijv. hygiënische maatregelen) kunnen ons beschermen tegen gevaren (bijv. besmetting van mensen in risicogroepen). Wanneer angst echter buitensporig is of te lang aanhoudt, kan dit nadelige effecten hebben voor onszelf, onze dierbaren


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