COVID-19 hasn’t been kind to many. People are still processing the loss of their loved ones, and fighting physical and mental health issues while some are still anxious from lost jobs and plummeting businesses.
The emotional deterioration isn’t confined to those who faced some kind of loss, but also to the ones who faced disorientations in their day-to-day lives. These include deranged schedules, canceled social celebrations, and logistical difficulties.
As the pandemic is slowly fading from sight, the aftermath still lingers. There are still individuals out there who feel extremely lonely, desperate, and vulnerable in all ways – Emotional, Financial, and Physical.
Are you also facing anxiety and depression since the pandemic? Or is it your loved one who you really want to help? Either way, you are not alone!
There are evidently some effective ways to address mental health issues impacted by the pandemic. This article brings about some active insights put together by Tracy Vannorsdall, a neuropsychologist. She discusses the effect of the pandemic and the virus itself on the mental health of individuals. She has also set out a few points on what to expect and how to go about alleviating anxiety and depression.
Overcoming Pandemic Stress: Who should be worried?
“The pandemic has definitely caused some kind of devastation in all,” says Vannorsdall, framing the research reports from various doctors’ offices.
“It is concerning that the number of individuals experiencing emotional anguish is increasing. There has also been a striking uptick in the number of patients facing issues with sleep disorders and excessive alcohol consumption, both of which have proven to manage overwhelming emotions while also making mental illness even harder to treat.”
The most affected ones during this pandemic are those with preexisting mental and physical health vulnerabilities. Vannorsdall identified a recurring pattern in the growth of patients suffering from depression and anxiety across different COVID surges. The number of patients shot up as the new cases rise.
However, one shouldn’t lose hope. Vannorsdall adds “There are still reasons to keep up the optimism.”
We feel empowered when we are self-aware, a sense that we control our emotions and how we feel. Cultivation of such attitudes in patients will go a long way in their treatment. The more they are injected with optimum knowledge of their situation and self-care strategies, the more they feel well. Plus, the advent of COVID preventive measures like vaccines has now made people feel less helpless when compared to the initial stages of the pandemic.
4 Ways to Combat Anxiety and Depression during the Pandemic
Anxiety and depression can be debilitating, but that doesn’t mean that these aren’t treatable. Sometimes, all it takes is self-awareness and discipline. Vannorsdall came up with 4 ways to improve mental health and help lower the risk of anxiety and depression:
- Follow a well-kept schedule
During the initial days of the pandemic, people were completely out of sync with their daily routines. Days were unstructured and disordered to an extent where they found it too hard to complete the smallest daily tasks. However, as the pandemic has slowly diminished, people are getting back to their normal days while also incorporating new habits and routines that they picked up during the times that they worked/studied from their homes.
Having a daily routine brings about a sense of fulfillment and mental clarity in individuals. This feeling could contribute to the well-being of mental health while keeping depression and anxiety at bay. For those who are still struggling to regain their balance, make small routine changes that would make a huge impact in the long run. “Wake up at the same time every day, follow a morning ritual, and have one attainable goal to tick off at the end of the day.”
- Engage in self-care
It is imperative to maintain a strong mind-body connection. Self-care is the key to achieving that equilibrium. It goes without saying, indulge in good physical activities, sleep, stay socially connected, and get fresh air.
- Be cautious with alcohol and drugs
Overuse of substances could be harmful in itself. It is the greatest risk, as people with anxiety and depression often find themselves under the influence of intoxicating drugs and alcohol to uplift their moods. Being extra careful around both would contribute to less damage, both mental and physical.
- Ask for help
Help is always out there for those who seek it. Now that we have telehealth, things have never been easier. Now, therapy can be done through phones or laptops at the patient’s convenience from anywhere.
The emergence of telehealth has changed everything about healthcare during the pandemic. Teletherapy platforms have extended their hands to patients in need without actually visiting them in person. It is the most convenient and effective method of patient care during tough times and beyond.
In addition to the efficacy of telehealth, there are applications that allow patients to track their mood, anxiety levels, and sleep. Allowing them to track their own behavioral data will make them notice effective patterns and help them fine-tune their mood.
Does the coronavirus contribute to mental illness?
It is unclear as to whether Covid actually affects the brain. It might physically influence anxiety and depression. Reports from healthcare professionals state, “Patients with long-term and severe COVID are most often victims of mental illnesses. They face more than organ damage and persistent COVID symptoms. They also experience a loss of emotional well-being.”
Another vulnerability for those who spend a lot of time in the ICU is post-intensive care syndrome, which, if untreated, can cause persistent, incapacitating anxiety and fear. Researchers have also found a possibility that COVID-19 could impact the brain and result in issues with cognition, affecting thinking, reasoning, and remembering abilities.
“The fact that each person responds to the illness and recovery in a different way makes controlling persistent COVID symptoms difficult. The PACT group offers treatment to people for a range of problems. “We are observing increased rates of anxiety, sadness, functional deterioration, and long-lasting cognitive abnormalities.” says Vannorsdall.
COVID-19’s ultimate recovery course has not yet been established. But, there are quick fixes to assist individuals to get past their difficulties. Even those who have sustained physical harm and persistent symptoms can participate in these interventions.
It was also discovered that the people treated for extreme COVID-19 symptoms previously had anxiety and depression in their life prior to the pandemic. They were able to enter the medical system and be recognized and treated, because of their COVID diagnosis.
What should you do if someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis?
Mental health crises could be subjective to each individual. Everyone has their good and bad days and it’s only reasonable to feel worried, anxious, and not motivated on some days. But one shouldn’t ignore these consistent symptoms of anxiety and depression:
- Discussing self-harm
- Thinking things will never get better
- Donating personal things
- Difficulty carrying out one’s regular daily activities
It could be time to take action if you observe these in a person you know. It is not easy at all, but here are some observed suggestions by Vannorsdall:
“There is no one solution that works for everyone, and it can be hard to figure out how to assist in a manner that an individual might be receptive to. However, you can find the one area of a distressed person’s life that they consider important, like their children, family, work, or any reason they believe overcoming their situation is essential.”
“Enlighten them of what matters and encourage them to reevaluate how they perceive their circumstances. Educate them on the importance of considering mind and body as two separate vital forces that demand separate care. Emotional distress is biological and it deserves the same care as physical damage.”
Managing mental health during COVID: Will it get better?
The prospects for our general and social well-being have started to have a better feel. We have accepted and adapted to many changes, while also establishing some long-lasting routines in our lives.
In the beginning, it was all chaos and there was so much we couldn’t make sense of. Many were pushed to the verge of desperation. However, with time people have gained more understanding of the pandemic situation and realized that with proper immunizations and caution, we can all be safe.