COVID-19: From Anxiety to Sadness

By Becca Brodoff, PsyD

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a shift in myself and in my patients. When COVID-19 was first showing up in the U.S., anxiety was running high. Most people were overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the illness and how it would affect them and their loved ones. Fear was a constant emotion, whether it was rearing its ugly head or sitting there, like a hard rock lodged deep in your gut. As things have developed, people have begun to feel less fearful and, instead, more glum. The initial threat and concern of the virus is not over, but, for better or worse, we’ve gotten used to it.

Now, we are facing the wreckage the virus has brought upon us. Reality is setting in and for many of us, it’s looking quite grim. Whether we now find ourselves jobless, isolated from friends, responsible for homeschooling children, having missed plans or special milestones, or even lost someone close, all of us are trying to adjust to a new, and less ideal, normal.

Given these changes, which may be quite drastic and life altering, it’s perfectly normal and expected to feel down. The virus has stolen a lot from us in varying levels of severity. In some cases, we may be depressed but in others what we are experiencing is actually grief. Grief is an emotion that communicates that things have changed and what had existed before is no longer. The losses we have experienced from this pandemic are no different. 

Overcoming grief is not easy, but a starting point is to remember that we’re all in this together. This alone can be the antidote to grief and is commonly incorporated into the grieving practices of many religious and spiritual groups. After the death of a loved one, many people typically spend time with others whether it’s sitting Shiva, visiting the gravesite with family, sending flowers or food, or gathering to remember fond memories. This situation should be no different and therefore social support remains essential. In moments of grief, consider reaching out to others and sharing how you feel. This might sound like, “I’m having a hard time today” or “I just can’t seem to shake this sinking feeling.” You’ll likely be surprised to find how much speaking about our experiences helps us to deal with our emotions.

In the same vein, identifying that what we are feeling can help with emotion regulation. The act of naming our emotional experiences can provide a sense of control and allow us to respond compassionately. It can be dysregulating not knowing what we are feeling, so labeling what we are going through can be a big step in coping.

Another key component is self-validation. This might sound like, “it makes sense that I’m feeling sad because things are very different from how I imagined and hoped them to be.” Validation, whether it’s self- or other-focused, is a simple technique that generally goes a long way. When validated, most people experience an immediate reduction in suffering, which can then make room for active problem solving. 

And finally, a small shift in perspective can go a long way and be what’s needed to refocus attention on the present. While we cannot predict what the world will look like in three months, or even three days from now, we can find ways to make today meaningful. Some small suggestions include making a gratitude list, spending time outside, or completing a task that boosts a sense of accomplishment. As we notice and take advantage of what is within our control, grief will start to fade. However, let’s not be alarmed when sadness creeps in because that is a normal part of the grieving process.

Inspirational Message

The Way of Mastery is to break all the rules—but you have to know them perfectly before you can do this; otherwise you are not in a position to transcend them.


What Clients Say

In a recent survey of our patients, 94% would recommend our practice to a friend.
Calmer in the Face of Hardship
I came to the Center for Anxiety for help in dealing with a family member who suffered from extreme anxiety. But I ended up getting a serious illness two months later and started having my own sessions. With the help of my therapist I got through my illness, learned to understand my habits that were making my major life stresses worse, learned to communicate better, taper my anger, and surprisingly I became more calmer even though my hardships in life worsened. Therapy is a lot of work and not easy, but nothing in life comes easy! I became a better and softer mom and (when I practice what I learned) and my kids and home are calmer and happier. I am still a work in progress and have more to work on, but I know I am on the right path. I wish I knew before how my communication style and anger were really impacting my life, how being softer you can accomplish way more then being harsh. I have been to other therapists in the past and I can hands down say that the Center for Anxiety’s approach is really effective. I have even referred a bunch of people to the Center and they have been really happy with the therapists and how much they really care for their patients.
I Tackled a Long List of Fears
When I first came to the Center for Anxiety, my list of anxieties/fears was long! I was scared of getting sick, getting stranded, driving, flying and more. With the help of my therapist, I immediately got to work and tackled every one of my fears. Now the world is open to me and I feel free! I can dream big and accomplish whatever I set my mind to! I am especially grateful that I was able to do all this without having to rely on medication. It was hard work – grueling at times! – but now I have the coping tools within me for life. In fact a family member recently said to me “You are awesome. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to because you don’t let fear stop you! ” Thank you Dr. Rosmarin and the Center for Anxiety staff for helping me get here. My fears no longer limit me and I love my life. Try it, it might turn your life around too!
Highly Skilled and Professional Treatment
When I sought treatment at the Center for Anxiety, the clinic was is in its incipient stages. However, by the time I successfully finished treatment, the Center for Anxiety grew and flourished into a world-class treatment center, offering cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment to countless individuals. The continued success of the Center for Anxiety comes as no surprise to me, with a team that contains such highly skilled professionals who display clinical acumen, empathy, and compassion. When I first entered treatment I was concerned that therapy would be similar to the experiences with past psychologists: a seemingly bottomless pit with no reductions in my anxiety symptoms, but was so relieved when I started to feel less anxious after only a handful of sessions. My therapist created a treatment plan that was tailored exactly to my needs and taught me practical skills to help me work through my anxiety that I still use and practice to this very day.
No More Panic
When I first came in, I was struggling with panic disorder and didn’t even know it, which only made dealing with it that much more difficult. After my first time sitting down with my therapist, however, I instantly started to gain perspective and look at the difficult situation in a different light. Our meetings helped me conquer the issue step by step and get my life back on track. I’d strongly recommend that anyone dealing with anxiety in a way that impacts their day to day life should visit the Center for Anxiety! I know it helped me tremendously.
Free of Obsessions
When I woke up one morning last June and didn’t want to get out of bed, I knew I needed help. The thought of getting through another day with all my anxieties, obsessions and rituals was just too overwhelming. After feeling stuck for years, I just couldn’t anymore. Thankfully, that’s when I found the Center for Anxiety. Dr. Rosmarin and his staff are experts at what they do, kind and professional. After just several weeks I accomplished my initial targets. The change I experienced in such a short amount of time was astounding that I stayed on for a while longer to work on more complex goals. I soon achieved those too. Now, I am free of my obsessions, know how to manage my anxiety, and love my life. My only regret: not having done this sooner. I wish I had known that you don’t have to wait to hit rock bottom to get help.
Depression Lifted
I’m 26 years old and I’ve been suffering from terrible depression for 7 years. In the throws of my sadness I literally wanted to die. Soon after starting therapy at the Center for Anxiety, my depression lifted. My suicidal thoughts began to dissipate. I remember the feeling that came over me as soon as the dark cloud above me left. It was the most liberating feeling I have ever experienced. I actually shouted to my friends, family and anyone nearby me “I’m Happy! I am Happy!” I felt free.
Over the course of four years I developed anxiety-like symptoms (tightness in chest, gut, back) that slowly but surely increased in duration and severity. The EXTREMELY uncomfortable nature of the symptoms notwithstanding, I still continued and managed to function. The effort required to do so, however, left me utterly drained. Having always been a very spiritual person I strongly felt that a course of therapy incorporating a spiritual component could potentially work well for me and decided to give the Center for Anxiety a try. Happily, I have achieved significant symptom reduction, tremendously improved emotional/mental health, and above all, Connection. Medication free. I’m no longer just existing, I’m LIVING. I’ve been given a second chance to become the unique human being that I was meant to be.
No More worries
I have wormed in healthcare for 36 years in many different settings, and I have been overwhelmingly satisfied with the Center for Anxiety. When staff says they are going to call, I get a call. From the first contact, I have been very impressed with the professionalism and efficiency. I had a situation and needed to have sessions more than once per week, and my clinicians worked out a schedule to accommodate my needs. I was astounded that they attended to me so quickly and effectively - they made my priority their priority. My clinicians were also excellent at what they do - they have a plan for me each session, and it's clear that they have thought in advance about each session, and that they are listening to what I say and observing what I do, even though our sessions have been conducted via Telehealth. Compassion is a quality that I have all too often found to be lacking in my experiences as a healthcare professional and patient, and this is not the case with the Center for Anxiety. Of all the websites I found on Google, I am so thankful that God guided my hand to yours.

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