Dr Najem Al-Falahe discusses how COVID-19 is contributing to a fear of ‘time’ slipping away

Nightingale Hospital consultant psychiatrist Dr Najem Al-Falahe features in the recent article, ‘While we stand still, time flies: How coronavirus is contributing to chronophobia’.

The Independent article, by journalist Juliana Piskorz, explores the idea that COVID-19 lockdowns are prompting chronophobia; the condition characterised by a feeling of anxiety of “time slipping through our fingers”.

The piece also highlights how the inability to “plan and progress” during this unstable time is also contributing to increasingly common feelings of anxiety and life dissatisfaction amongst individuals.

Dr Al-Falahe offers a fascinating insight into why this phenomenon may be specifically affecting young people up to their early 30’s.

“In psychiatry, we see a pattern that people who are anxious are always ruminating about the future or the past and are never present in the now,” he says. And this is, even more, the case in young people.”

Dr Al-Falahe explains that society has divided human life up into “three phases”, ones that are usually marked by evolving and “hitting huge targets”, such as getting an education and buying a home.

“Up until your mid-thirties you are in a phase of planning and building and this is a crucial part of developing your personal identity.

“Now we cannot plan and this is hugely traumatic for people in the first phase of life. The cornerstone of their identity has been taken away from them,” explains Dr Al-Falahe.

Although difficult in the current climate, Dr Al-Falahe reminds readers that agonising over the future is detrimental to our mental health.

You can read the full article on The Independent.

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