Coronavirus symptoms: How to tell if it’s not anxiety – key signs you have the virus

Coronavirus symptoms: How to tell if it’s not anxiety – key signs you have the virus


Coronavirus is an infectious disease that has been confirmed in more than three million people across the world. Some of the warning signs of coronavirus could be mistaken for anxiety.

Cases are continuing to rise in the UK, and the government has urged the public to stay at home, to avoid becoming infected or spreading the virus further.

People have been advised to remain indoors, as more than 160,000 UK individuals have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The most common coronavirus symptoms include having a high fever, shortness of breath, and a new, continuous cough.

But, some patients also develop a number of symptoms that are similar to those caused by anxiety.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that health systems are at risk of becoming overwhelmed in many countries, after an increasing demand on health workers and facilities.

“Previous outbreaks have demonstrated that when health systems are overwhelmed, deaths due to vaccine-preventable and treatable conditions increase dramatically,” said the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom.

“Even though we’re in the midst of a crisis, essential health services must continue. Babies are still being born, vaccines must still be delivered, and people still need life-saving treatment for a range of other diseases.

“COVID-19 is reminding us how vulnerable we are, how connected we are and how dependent we are on each other. In the eye of a storm like COVID, scientific and public health tools are essential, but so are humility and kindness.”

More than 160,000 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK, but how can you tell whether your symptoms are caused by anxiety or the infection?

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Coronavirus symptoms

Most common:


Dry cough

Shortness of breath

Aching muscles


Less common:

Phlegm buildup





Runny nose

Sore throat


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How is coronavirus different to anxiety?

There are some similarities in terms of symptoms between the coronavirus and anxiety.

In particular, both conditions can lead to shortness of breath, according to Patient Access GP Dr Sarah Jarvis.

If you are able to steady your breathing pattern within a few minutes, it’s more likely to be caused by anxiety, she said.

“The symptoms of panic attacks tend to settle if you concentrate on your breathing and take very slow breaths,” she told The Sun.

“Try tummy breathing – put one hand on your chest and the other on your tummy.

“You should aim to breathe quietly by moving your tummy with your chest moving very little.”

Anxiety could also lead to a number of digestive problems, including stomach pain and diarrhoea.

But, some coronavirus patients have also reported the onset of diarrhoea.

If your stomach problems are accompanied by more typical signs of COVID-19, then it’s likely to be caused by the virus.


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How should you protect yourself?

The best way to avoid becoming infected with coronavirus is to stay at home.

The UK government has ordered everyone to remain inside their own homes, in a bid to try to slow the spread of the virus.

You should only leave the house to buy basic necessities – food and medicine – or for one form of exercise a day.

You can also go outside if you need medical help, or to help a vulnerable person, or if you’re travelling to and from work.

Only key workers should be travelling to work, with the majority expected to remain at home.

To stop the coronavirus spreading, it’s also important to wash your hands with soap regularly, for at least 20 seconds. If water isn’t available, you can use a hand sanitiser gel.

If you do leave the house, wash your hands as soon as you return.

Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and then immediately put the tissue into a bin.

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