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The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health

The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health

Let’s see a show of hands–how many people are feeling more relaxed with less anxiety and depression during the pandemic? Now, how many are experiencing unprecedented levels of depression and anxiety because of COVID-19? We can take a wild guess that there aren’t too many hands in the first scenario, but a whole lot of raised hands on the last one. Statistics show that over 40% of people are reporting some anxiety or depression symptoms since the pandemic began and as high as 48% for those in poor health. That’s a pandemic in itself.

COMMON SYMPTOMS DURING THE PANDEMIC

Since the pandemic started, we’ve seen a spike in the number of mental health symptoms. Anxiety brought on by a fear of COVID-19 and worries about the economy have created all-new levels of widespread anxiety. Many people have lost jobs or income because of the pandemic, and even those who are still working suffer from the challenges of working at home, like children at home instead of in school, other family members creating noise and distractions, and finding yourself easily distracted by domestic duties instead of working.

Lack of socialization can lead to feelings of depression and many people feel cut off from extended family for support. While working at home is normal and beneficial for some people, the pandemic has shown that for a lot of people, it’s not ideal.  Since the pandemic began, depression symptoms have tripled. Those with less savings have been particularly vulnerable to the onset of depression during this time.

This pandemic has had a dramatic increase in depression and anxiety among the general public even as mental health services have become harder to come due to quarantine measures. The lack of mental health support and isolation may lead to an increase in substance abuse, particularly alcoholism, as people can readily drink to drown their pain. Even as most businesses face shut down during COVID-19, the liquor stores are usually open.

CHALLENGES TO SOCIETY DURING A PANDEMIC

The challenges to healthcare workers can be obvious, but how a pandemic manifests among the general population is more subtle. Healthcare workers are saddled with the burden of protective equipment, lack of supplies, and feelings of helplessness when they can’t cure COVID-19. But they do have each other to act as a support system.

The general public has to rely on immediate members of the household, however that breaks down. Maybe you’re single and live alone. Maybe you’re a single parent struggling to work a job and take care of your children. Maybe you’re a young family struggling because both parents have to work and there’s a constant conflict over who’s going to take care of the children.

These are issues that affect the public and can create a real powder keg that’s about to explode. As COVID-19 drags on, everyone needs to develop new coping strategies to deal with the long-term isolation, worry of getting sick, and inability to meet with family members while keeping recommended safety precautions.

WHO IS HIT HARDEST?

There are multiple conditions that can predispose a person to contracting COVID-19 and the elderly are especially vulnerable, comprising 80% of people who contract the disease. When there is a pandemic that kills and targets an age group or demographic that you’re part of, it’s going to increase anxiety. But the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI) has identified other groups of people that can be severely affected, including women and people under 40, who tend to have the greatest caregiving responsibilities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some of the conditions that predispose you to contract COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:

  •  Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Heart disease (heart failure, coronary artery disease, etc.)
  • Organ transplant or any immunocompromised condition
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

They’ve also added pregnancy and sickle cell disease to the list of risk factors they’ve found, but caution that as this is a new disease, they have limited data on determining other risk factors.

HOW TO COPE

One of the best things you can do during the pandemic is to get off the couch and get some exercise. Make sure to eat healthy overall, even if you indulge at times. A diet full of sugar and fat makes you lethargic and that can lead to more depression. Weight gain can also make you feel depressed.

While it’s not the same as meeting with people in person, you can use technology to video call friends and family. It’s important not to feel so alone during these difficult times.

It’s tempting to obsess over news about COVID-19, but try to limit your reading and TV exposure about the disease to checking for important medical updates and follow the advice of trusted healthcare sites to avoid misinformation. This is a perfect time to distract yourself by reading books you’ve had on your to-do list, learning a new language, or engaging in a new hobby.

Globally, life has not been the same since COVID-19 hit. We’ve had to learn how to work from home, home school our children, and make limited but protected trips outside the home for necessities. Some people have been unfortunate enough to lose loved ones. The stress of the pandemic and the anxiety and depression it causes has led many to drink or use substances to try and deal with the symptoms. As a result, experts predict that there will be an increase in the number of people who suffer from addiction and co-occurring mental health issues. Everlast Recovery Centers can help you overcome these struggles by providing detox services, inpatient residential programs, individual and family counseling, and aftercare services and programs. We also offer a variety of therapeutic and holistic treatment modalities, such as motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based stress reduction, art therapy, equine therapy, and more. To learn more about how Everlast Recovery Centers can help you deal with the mental health impact of COVID-19, call us at 866-DETOX-25

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