How to Deal with Stress During a Pandemic

Dodge et al. (2002), in a study, demonstrated that any epidemic, pandemic, or serious outbreak in society has serious negative effects on society as well as on the lives of individuals.

COVID-19 resulted in sudden, overwhelming and unexpected changes all over the world. Many states of emergency were decreed, forcing the population to stay at home, and thus causing high levels of stress and negative emotions. Several studies support the above statement (Roy et al., 2020; Torales et al., 2020), citing stress, anxiety, fear, anger, insomnia, and denial as the most reported mental health problems (by different population groups) during the pandemic.

A study of 113,285 participants from India, China, Spain, Italy and Iran found that the prevalence of depression, anxiety and stress during the pandemic was 20%, 35% and 53% respectively and appeared to be increasing (Lakhan et al., 2020).

A similar study found that the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among the general population increased from 23,88% to 24,84% during the pandemic (Cooke et al., 2020).

Wu et al. (2020) reported stress, particularly stress associated with uncertainty, led to mental health disorders. This study, further demonstrated that the prevalence of mental health disorders associated with COVID-19 was 22,8%.

In 2021, Abbot, investigated the stress caused by pandemic COVID-19 and the related consequences. This researcher, found that there is an increase in the prevalence of stress, anxiety and depression in the US population from 11% to 42% due to this pandemic. This increase in stress also occurs during the increase in new positive cases of COVID-19.

Esteves et al. (2021), associated the high level of stress, anxiety and sleep disturbances with the period of social withdrawal.

There are several strategies that can be used to combat stress during a pandemic. The University of Melbourne’s website mentions some that can be adopted:

– knowing how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19;

– recognize your feelings;

– maintain day-to-day activities and a routine as much as possible;

– maintaining personal connections;

– remember that physical distance does not mean social disconnection;

– contribute by showing concern for friends, family, or vulnerable people in the community;

– keep things in perspective, i.e., in the absence of information, don’t imagine the worst case scenario;

– seek only reliable information;

– set limits on news viewing and social media.

According to Bhattacharjee and Ghosh (2021), the pandemic of COVID-19 not only affects physical health, but also severely affects the mental health of individuals, whether infected or not. Thus, it is very important for both health care professionals and individuals themselves to pay attention not only to physical well-being, but also to psychological well-being.


Abbott, A. (2021). COVID’s mental-health toll: how scientists are tracking a surge in depression. Nature, 590, 194–195.

Bhattacharjee, A. & Ghosh, T. (2021). COVID-19 Pandemic and Stress: Coping with the New Normal. Journal of Prevention and Health Promotion, 3, 30-52.

Cooke, J. E., Eirich, R., Racine, N. & Madigan, S. (2020). Prevalence of posttraumatic and general psychological stress during COVID-19: A rapid review and meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research, 292, 113347.

Dodgen, D., LaDue, L. R. & Kaul, R. E. (2002). Coordinating a local response to a national tragedy: Community mental health in Washington, DC after the Pentagon attack. Military Medicine, 167(4), 87–89. Link:

Esteves, C. S., Oliveira, C. R. D. & Argimon, I. I. D. L. (2021). Social distancing: Prevalence of depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms among Brazilian students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Public Health, 8, 589966.

Lakhan, R., Agrawal, A. & Sharma, M. (2020). Prevalence of Depression, Anxiety, and Stress during COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice, 11(4), 519–525.

Roy, D., Tripathy, S., Kar, S. K., Sharma, N., Verma, S. K. & Kaushal, V. (2020). Study of knowledge, attitude, anxiety & perceived mental healthcare need in Indian population during COVID-19 pandemic. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 51, 102083.

The University of Melbourne. Coronavirus (COVID-19): managing stress and anxiety. Consultado em 14 abr. de 2022. Disponível em

Torales, J., O’Higgins, M., Castaldelli-Maia, J. M. & Ventriglio, A. (2020). The outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on global mental health. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 66(4), 317–320.

Wu, D., Yu, L., Yang, T., Cottrell, R., Peng, S., Guo, W. & Jiang, S. (2020). The impacts of uncertainty stress on mental disorders of Chinese college students: Evidence from a nationwide study. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 243.

Related Articles