What causes worry burnout?
We experience emotions for a reason, said Jeffrey Cohen, a clinical psychologist and psychiatry professor at Columbia. Fear is an evolutionary tool to respond to threats; anxiety sends an alarm through our brains, alerting us that we need to get ourselves to safety. But at this stage of the pandemic, he said, we’ve dealt with the constant threat of Covid-19 for so long that we no longer trust our brains when they tell us we’re under attack. “It’s like, is this even a real alarm anymore?” Dr. Cohen said.
The physiological symptoms of stress wear on us, he added. Our nervous system reacts to worry: Cortisol levels shoot up, heart rates rise. We end up in a heightened, chronically exhausted state. “Your body can’t sustain high levels of anxiety for long periods of time without fatiguing,” said Michelle Newman, a psychology professor at Pennsylvania State University who researches it