Editor’s Note: On Wednesdays, James Hamblin takes questions from readers about health-related curiosities, concerns, and obsessions. Have one? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Dr. Hamblin,
I need to see my therapist, but she isn’t doing teletherapy due to her hearing. She says she’s opening windows on both sides of her office, leaving one hour between appointments, requiring masks, and swapping the nylon cover on the couch between clients. I still don’t feel comfortable. Plus, she herself is elderly. Am I overreacting?
San Francisco, California
You are overreacting. Because I’m not a therapist, I’ll tell you that directly, even though I understand it would be more effective to let you discover it yourself.
It’s good to be cautious. About 1,700 Americans are dying from COVID-19 every day. The number is climbing quickly. Our collective problem is that most people aren’t being cautious enough. At the same time, it remains possible to be too cautious. At a certain point, caution becomes self-defeating, especially if it means missing things like important medical appointments.
When in-person visits can reasonably be delayed until vaccination is widespread, that may be the safest choice, especially in places where health-care systems are overwhelmed. Many people who are young and healthy, for example, could be fine without an annual primary-care check-up this year. But keeping up with therapy is extremely important, more like a root canal than a wart removal, and even more so at a moment when the United States is seeing a surge in mental-health issues.