How do I cope with anxiety about Ebola?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
Ebola is frightening for two main reasons. In the US, we don’t know a lot about it and are not accustomed to it (unlike things like the flu). Also, it has a high mortality rate for people who get infected in Africa. Still, you can get your anxiety about Ebola under control by making yourself aware of the facts about this virus -- facts that show you are highly unlikely to get it:

1. Catching Ebola requires physical contact with bodily fluids.
2. Patients with Ebola are typically not very infectious until they have a fever and symptoms.
3. By the point they are very contagious (i.e. vomiting and having diarrhea), they are also very sick, and not likely to be walking around the mall, traveling with you on the plane, or sitting in front of you at a movie theater.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Are you concerned about travel because of Ebola? Dr. Oz takes questions from the audience about Ebola, how it spreads and what to make of the media hype.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
To cope with your anxiety about Ebola, you have to be realistic about your risk of getting it. You're more likely in North America to get struck by lightning or have a car accident that disables you. You're much more likely to get virtually any other disease you know the name of.

Get your mind off Ebola by exercising or doing something to give back to society, like volunteering at a food bank. And don't watch the news on TV. Instead opt for comedy shows or a lighthearted movie. 
Keith Roach, MD
Internal Medicine
Knowledge is your best weapon to cope with anxiety about Ebola. Understand that you can't get sick without being in very close contact with someone who has symptomatic Ebola. A lot of people are going to be worried during cold and flu season that what they're coming down with is Ebola, but it's not going to be. You are at far greater risk of influenza or of being in a motor vehicle accident.

We're hearing about it all the time on the news, so Ebola is on our minds -- but there's no need to fear a major outbreak in this country. We have to have some trust that our public health officials are doing what's necessary to protect us. 

Continue Learning about Ebola

Ebola: 8 Must-Know Facts
Ebola: 8 Must-Know Facts
As an ER physician at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, I’ve received many questions about Ebola. I know that many people have concerns, so I want...
Read More
What if there is a pet in the home of an Ebola patient?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that public health officials in coll...
More Answers
Ebola Timeline
Ebola TimelineEbola TimelineEbola TimelineEbola Timeline
See when and where the Ebola virus has struck over the years.
Start Slideshow
What is the Most Important Thing to Know about an Ebola Outbreak?
What is the Most Important Thing to Know about an Ebola Outbreak?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.