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Study finds fear of contracting COVID-19 major source of anxiety, stress

KARACHI: A group of researchers at the Aga Khan University (AKU), having conducted a study, has found fear of contracting COVID-19 as the major source of anxiety and stress among respondents they surveyed online.
“Three out of four Pakistani adults are suffering from moderate or high levels of stress during this COVID-19 pandemic while nearly one in three are experiencing moderate or severe anxiety,” the researchers reported while releasing findings of their first phase of an ongoing survey.
Over 90 per cent of the participants were from Sindh and Punjab, having been contacted by the Karachi based researchers of the university.
As many as 374 respondents were reached to determine if people had generalised anxiety disorder, perceived stress or both conditions.

“The respondents ranked the top three causes of anxiety and stress as being fear of contracting the virus, financial losses during the pandemic and losing a loved one to COVID-19,” a communication issued by the AKU said.

According to the research group hailing from AKU’s department of community health sciences (CHS), 76% of the survey participants were much more concerned about their loved ones catching the disease. In comparison, four of 10 respondents reported a lot of fear or extreme fear about catching the virus themselves.

Professor Sameen Siddiqi, the CHS department chair commented that the pandemic had exposed the social and economic vulnerabilities and created widespread uncertainty in society.

“If left unchecked, stress associated with COVID-19 can lead to distress and the distress can lead to disease,” it was warned.

The study also found a high correlation between exposure to rumours via WhatsApp and anxiety or stress, since more than eight out of ten respondents suffering from the two conditions were using this social media platform–PNFS

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