Some people thought life would be back to normal by now, but instead, South Carolina is facing increasing rates of coronavirus.
Cancer patients have to be particularly careful, given that research is showing they can be more susceptible to the virus. Even worse, people are dealing with what Wendy Balliet, Ph.D., describes as caution fatigue. Balliet is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a psychologist who works with cancer patients at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Hollings Cancer Center.
Caution fatigue is when people experience low motivation or don’t have the energy to adhere to health guidelines, despite the increasing threat, and they crave being able to return to normal activity. “Caution fatigue is seen in everyday life as well, like when you ignore an alarm that goes off at the same time every day because you’ve heard it before,” she said.
“For individuals considered high risk for acquiring COVID-19, watching seemingly ‘healthy’ people return to restaurants, bars, parks, bowling alleys, gyms and other public places can elicit multiple difficult emotions,” she explained. “Those emotions include frustration, anger, fear and anxiety, loneliness and even a false sense of safety.”
Balliet hopes to raise awareness about this fatigue and its impact on patients and their families. “You have been treading water since March with most of the world, and it is so hard to keep treading to stay afloat as you see people around you walk to shore, no longer struggling against the tide,” she said.
“However, the storm is not over, and, if you are a person with cancer or other health conditions that put you at high risk, being vigilant about your health now is more important and more difficult than ever.”