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New study shows fear has turned to anger during COVID-19 pandemic

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University looked at more than 20 million tweets to see how our emotions have changed over the last several months.

YORK, Pa. — Social media may not be face-to-face interaction, but emotions can still be detected in text.  A new global study aimed to document the shift in our emotions due to the pandemic.  

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore looked at more than 20 million tweets that included 4 keywords: Wuhan, Corona, nCov and Covid. It then categorized them according to the emotions the person displayed, either anger, fear, joy or sadness. 

Here's what they found: 

Over the past few months, many people's fear regarding COVID-19 has turned into anger.  In fact, in January, about 60 percent of online comments expressed fear or uncertainty over the virus. since then, though, the number of fearful tweets continues to drop and the total of angry tweets continues to rise.  

Health and wellness media expert Dr. David Geier says the change is most likely due to our frustrations over quarantines and feelings of isolation. However,  he also said there was an important bright spot in the new study.

"Feelings of joy and gratitude are rising. Since May, tweets expressing joy nearly equaled the fearful ones," Geier said.

Now what?

Experts say the steady rise in negative emotions should be monitored and controlled better by public health departments.  For now, though, there are places for you to turn for help.  The Center's for Disease Control and Prevention is a great place to start. It has an entire section on their website dedicated to mental health and tips for you to better handle stressful situations.