The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has the potential to increase stress and anxiety, both because of the fear of catching the virus and because of uncertainty about how it will affect us. If you have PTSD, you may have stronger stress reactions than normal. Feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness and doubt are normal during a pandemic.

Fortunately, there are tools and resources that can help you manage your mental health and well-being. The following suggestions may help you deal with stress during these times of uncertainty:

Steady breathing and muscle relaxation can help prevent stress.

Stay Connected

  • Seek support from family, friends, mentors, clergy and those who are in similar circumstances.
  • Be flexible and creative in using phone, email, text messaging and video calls.

Cultivate Ways to be More Calm

  • Realize that it is understandable to feel anxious and worried about what may happen.
  • If you find that you are getting more stressed by watching the news, reduce your exposure, particularly prior to sleep.
  • Practice slow, steady breathing and muscle relaxation, as well as any other actions that are calming for you (yoga, exercise, music, meditation).
  • Try using the PTSD Coach mobile app, or PTSD Coach online for more stress reduction tools.

Improve Your Sense of Control and Ability to Endure

  • Accept situations that cannot be changed and focus on what you can alter.
  • Modify your definition of a “good day” to meet the current reality of the situation.
  • Problem-solve and set achievable goals within the new circumstances in your life.

Remain Hopeful

  • Consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.
  • Celebrate successes, find things to be grateful about and take satisfaction in completing tasks, even small ones.
  • Give yourself small breaks from the stress of the situation by doing something you enjoy.
  • Draw upon your spirituality, those who inspire you or your personal beliefs and values.

Here’s some advice from those who have been in similar situations:

  • Recognize, acknowledge and accept the reality of the situation.
  • Prepare to feel overwhelmed or overly distressed. Preparation can make you feel more in control if these feelings arise and help you move through them quickly.
  • If you are having a hard time making decisions, talk to a trusted family member or friend.
  • Be aware that there are also behaviors that DON’T help. Learn more about these negative coping methods that you should avoid.
  • Talk to your health care provider if your stress seems overwhelming. Sign into MyHealtheVet and send a Secure Message.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at

Recommendations for COVID-19 may change as officials learn more, so monitor the CDC for updates.

Patricia Watson is a Navy Veteran and psychologist at VA’s National Center for PTSD

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Published on Mar. 18, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 405


  1. Marc C. Daniele March 31, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    And what is this 100% Disabled, Service Connected Vet supposed to do about the continual stress directly caused by having to deal with the criminal “va system” that cares more about protecting “the system” than the actual Vets it was specifically founded to care for?
    “va” tactic employed against Vets who complain about the criminal “va system”-“Smear the complainer, and the complaint goes away”!
    US Troops=Cannon Fodder/pawns for foreign policy.
    US Vets=An inconvenience/damaged goods.
    US Vets who speak out=Disgruntled Veterans and possible Lone Wolf Terrorists-per the BORN OF TREASON “dept. of homeland security” April 2009 report on Rightwing Extremism.

    Good thing more Americans are learning daily how Vets are really being treated!

  2. Matthew Brainard March 27, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    I am a business owner who is totally shut down how can I get help going Thur all this paper work it can be confusing.I haven’t had money coming in for 2weeks and a lot of bills coming due I don’t want to lose my business or my apt. I know there are other vets in the same situation is the VA going to offer help applying funds to save our business and homes .Thank You

  3. George Crawley March 26, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    I’m a disabled veteran the VBA judge made me unemployable so I’m trying to figure out if i qualify for a stimulus check even tho I couldn’t work last few years

    • Dawn March 28, 2020 at 4:01 am

      Hi, I am wondering the exact same thing and cannot find a Google answer anywhere. Just a ” Veterans are expected to be treated like SSI or SS people”. Thst is not reassuring in the least. I am considering to file my zero income taxes just to make sure I’m on record with IRS. However, that would be ridiculous for all TDIU vets to have to do and it would cause delays in checks, and more useless work for the IRS to have to shift through when they need to be doing things quickly. I hope if you find answer you may share and I will if I find an answer. Hope all stay safe and healthy.

  4. Conrad Cool March 26, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    I used to have 1-2 drinks per week. Now with no where to go, I have 1-2 drinks per day. That’s how I manage my anxiety.

    • Rob Brinkley April 2, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      It is ridiculous that there’s absolutely nothing out there to satisfy this question other than being lumped in with Social Security benefactors that have access to a SSA-1099 form that disabled veterans do not have anything comparable to. Just another insult while adding another layer to the insanity already going on outside our door.

  5. Lea March 25, 2020 at 7:41 am

    Hello, I am the caregiver for my husband. We are living outside of the U.S. He is 100% rated disability for Agent Orange Prostate Cancer. He is registered for VA Health Care – via FMP – living abroad. He also had blood clots in his lungs and on blood thinners and HIV medications. He can hardly walk without being completely out of breath. He is 73 years old and currently on a lock down due to virus, which is extremely dangers. He needs someone to pickup his medication, cook, clean, remind to take medications even before this virus. I take him to doctor appointments, cook and clean. It takes a lot to look after him daily. He gets depressed and express it through anger which he takes out on me. I take him to his doctor for mental health in which he is rated for. My question is would he qualify for the VA CareGiver Program? Many Thanks Lea

  6. Daveyon Dearmon March 24, 2020 at 8:30 pm


  7. Teresa Garner March 21, 2020 at 11:05 am

    During a four-day stay in Syracuse NY VA. I was given a drug of which I had allergies, my first dose was Friday night, so I sat down, I became sick all my joints felt as though they were on fire, I was provided little aid over the weekend.monday morning I was discharged and told to go to the local ER hospital for aid, oh on Sunday morning I asked Dr. Hiroshi for help and he laughed at me, my point is that I had to go to the local ER hospital for help

    • Conrad Cool March 25, 2020 at 10:25 pm

      That is the exact same thing that happened to Thomas ennenga. The same doctor on the same day laughed at both of you after asking for help. That’s more than a coincidence.

  8. Judith P. Mucci March 20, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    I wasn’t sure where to share this, but, here goes:
    l am a Vietnam Veteran. I receive my Medical Services through Atlantic VA/Wilmington, Delaware. I receive my immediate medical needs at the NORTHFIELD VA Medical Clinic NJ.
    I can only thank all my Doctors, Therapist, PACT Team Staff, CASE MANAGERS,and Exceptional Receptionists for how they have cared for me in good times and bad times. I walked into Northfield VA Medical Clinic in desperate need for their help
    having moved to Southern NJ from Atlanta, GA where l also received very Excellent treatment.
    Without their professional and committed care of me is something that makes so proud to be a Veteran. How l was immediately cared for and assigned to other Professionals

  9. Thomas ennenga March 19, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    After a four day stay in Syracuse NY VA. I was given a med that I have allergies to, my first dose was Friday night then sat am, I became ill all my joints felt like they were on fire, I was offered no help over the weekend.monday morning I was discharged and told to go to a local hospital ER for help, oh on Sunday morning I asked the Dr Hiroshi for help and he laughed at me, my point is that with health care like this how does one trust the VA

  10. Steven L Mingione March 19, 2020 at 12:07 am

    When will the V.A. offer the test to determine if I have the Coronavirus ?

  11. Michael Bergschneider March 18, 2020 at 10:55 pm

    My VA is not ready , I checked and every veteran that thinks they will be taken care of better check there own VA. I am concerned.

  12. Christine CaulfieldHickok March 18, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    I’m my husband’s caregiver, do I receive a stimulus check ?

    • Jennifer Louise March 23, 2020 at 6:50 pm

      Caroline – if you are his fiduciary possibly. If you file taxes, likely it will be a joint check, married filing joint individuals should get doubke what the individual amount is.

  13. Patrick Seiichi Ikeda March 18, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    As a veteran over 65, I’m worried about the information coming on the COVID-19 virus and the quarantines going on, plus the extreme dangers to our lives! What exactly is the actual dangers to us?

  14. Juan Avila March 18, 2020 at 11:40 am

    This was very helpful and to all my fellow veterans and their families all over the world and people all over the world be safe and pray that someone soon will once invent a vaccine so everyone can be healthy once more and my condolences to all of you all over the world who has lost someone to this terrible disease.

    • RASHEEDAH I BILAL-Sanders March 26, 2020 at 1:18 pm

      go to and follow your state and local officials for news on covid 19 virus. Social distancing 6 to 10 feet and if sick call your general practitioner / doctor first before going into hospital so you can get info on what to do. Dont go to the ER unless you have life threatening symptoms, and call first to let them know your coming. Dont wait until you have respiratory symptoms to call your doctor. If you have high fever, cough, and soar throat call your doctor. Remember the ERs and hospitals are packed with sick and infected in some cases and you dont want to be their if you dont have to. Keep safe my fellow warriors <3

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