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COVID Impact: Doctors Say Some People Are So Scarred By The Pandemic They Now Have A Legit Fear Of Going Out

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It seems almost daily there are signs of life getting back to "normal," even with new loosened mask-wearing recommendations.

But for some, the COVID-19 lockdown has had a lasting psychological impact, resulting in a fear of going out, or FOGO, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported Sunday.

"Prior to COVID, I would definitely say I was one of the most outgoing people," Cynthia Irons said.

But as the virus took hold, Irons felt the need to escape the city.

"We were in a rural community. I could go out and go running. It was like my life never changed. You could socially distance upstate in ways you can't in Manhattan," Irons said.


When the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel started getting brighter, Irons returned, but admits it was different.

"Just this idea of social anxiety of getting around people again. Just the thought of doing laundry. You can't escape your neighbors. I hadn't been around people for six months. It was just this little bit of fear of what was it going to be like," she said.

Irons said it was a level of stress, a fear of going out, she never experienced. She said she tried mediation and other practices, but it didn't help.

So she turned to hypnotherapy.

"There's a rational fear of COVID. There's a rational fear of getting pushed in the subway. But at what point does it become irrational and how do you function, to get back to a better place," said Alexandra Janelli, a licensed hypnotherapist and owner of Modrn Sanctuary. "My job is not to eradicate her fear; it's to help get it to a tolerable place that she can handle it."


Janelli said the goal is to help focus, and shift perspective, adding it's never about making you do anything you don't want to. She also never discounts the need for additional professional help.

Dr. Brittany LeMonda is neuropsychologist.

"It's not surprising to me that a lot people who have not had any experience with psychological disorders are now emerging with them," LeMonda said.

Psychologists say people who are afraid of returning to outside life shouldn't compare themselves to people who had no anxiety at all, because everyone's narrative entering and exiting this pandemic is unique

"I think things like deep breathing, mediation, hypnotherapy, these all be part of the treatment package in a way. Different things work for different people," LeMonda said.

For more resources pertaining to mental health during the pandemic, please click here and here.

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