Mental health disorders have been on the increase nowadays due to the coronavirus pandemic. This viral infection has caused lots of anxiety and depression, and most people are unable to cope with quarantine and social distancing precautions. Health experts have emphasized the need to buy covid rapid tests to be sure of your status. The common mental problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic are the following.
Anxiety: The current virus symptoms such as shortness of breath have made many people live in fear and anxiety. Some fear missing work and lack of medical funds in case they get sick. The increase in several infections is also another cause of stress and anxiety.
Depression: The current social distancing, especially between youths, has led to an increased chance of depression. Other disease symptoms list is different from covid’s, and that why most people are unable to cope with self-isolation.
Traumatic stress: Do I have a disease? That’s one of the issues which are causing stress among people who have interacted with corona patients. Health experts recommend special mental health care for such victims.
The best way to improve your mental health during this pandemic is to learn early symptoms of corona. Other ways include doing enough exercises, eating a well-balanced meal, enough sleep, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and practicing good hygiene.
One in five adults and 16.5% of adolescents suffer from mental health disorders but mental health and self-care might be the most neglected part of our healthcare and hygiene routines. Currently, there are thousands of people suffering from anxiety and depression due to the world pandemic, social distancing, and quarantine precautions. Just as important as using hand sanitizer and bleach wipes is taking care of your mental health during this chaotic and frightening time.
Be Aware of Mental Risks
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a large variety of problems. One of those is going to be an increase in mental health disorders. Potential mental health symptoms to watch yourself and your family for are:
Anxiety- You’re worried about getting sick and the people you love getting sick. You’re worried about missing work or being fired, affording healthcare if you need it, and more during this difficult time. Anxiety is a normal thing to experience during times of high stress but it can quickly become overwhelming.
Obsession- With so much stress and anxiety present, it is highly likely that you or someone you love may become obsessed with cleaning, disease prevention, and quarantine preparedness. This can be worse in people who already experience OCD and can even lead to new OCD cases.
Loneliness/Depression- Being stuck either alone or with only a few people can be incredibly difficult for many people. Social distancing can easily lead to loneliness and depression, especially in adolescents.
Traumatic Stress- Individuals who have been diagnosed and quarantined are likely to suffer from traumatic stress from the extreme situation and may require specialty mental health care after they are released.
However, there is a lot you can do to help improve your mental health during this difficult time.
Improving your mental health should start with taking care of your physical health. Not only does exercise help with depression and anxiety, but taking care of your body can have a huge affect on one’s self-esteem. Think of a healthy body as the foundation of your house: if it’s not strong and cared for, everything piled on top of it can break it. A few suggestions for caring for your physical health are:
- Exercise: It may be difficult to do right now if you prefer going to the gym but you can find DIY exercises and equipment online easily. Exercise has proven to be effective at fighting depression and anxiety, as well as improving sleep. It may also help you establish a new routine, which considerably decreases anxiety.
- Eat Well: Even if you’re living off canned goods, try to maintain a healthy diet. Not only will you feel more energized, but it can also improve your mood. If you’re having trouble eating due anxiety, depression, or another mental health issue, try to focus on simply eating at least one decent meal a day.
- Sleep: It may not seem particularly important but adults need 8 – 12 hours of sleep at night to maintain good mental health. If you’re struggling with sleeping, add a daily nap to your routine to refresh yourself. If you can, avoid TVs, Computers, and phones before bed for effective sleep.
- Avoid Alcohol and Drugs: Although it might seem like a good idea, drinking and drug use is a dangerous road to take during a healthcare crisis and quarantine scenario. While it may be okay to have one drink now and again, try to avoid bingeing on alcohol or other substances. Alcohol is depressant and will likely only make matters worse.
- Practice relaxation: Meditation and deep breathing can help not only mitigate the effects of anxiety but also can help relieve stress. Constant contact with family members and cabin fever can cause a great deal of conflict and frustration. However, relaxation techniques can help you process your emotions and remain calm during stressful situations.
- Practice Good Hygiene: Even if you’re stuck home, continue to maintain your normal hygiene routines. Maintaining some normalcy will help you maintain your routines and cut down anxiety.
Dealing With the News
Watching the news can be both beneficial and harmful. While it is good to keep an eye on what is happening and keep yourself updated on the politics of the situation, it may also cause a great deal of anxiety. It’s important to be careful with your news consumption. Avoid keeping a news channel on constantly and try to limit your exposure to once or twice a day.
Make sure to limit your sources to those that are the most trustworthy such as the Center of Disease COntrol (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and your trusted local news channel. Be wary of online news sources as misinformation and bad reporting are extremely common and spreading fake news can be very detrimental during such a delicate time. If you’re unsure whether something is true, do not post about it on social media or share it with others.
Finally, try to practice acceptance for what is going on in your area. The news may not answer all your questions, and there are a lot of unknowns during this time. Work on accepting the uncertainty and try to trust that local, state, and federal officials, healthcare providers and workers, and the medical community are doing everything they can to address the situation.
Dealing with Stress
People deal with stress in a variety of different ways. While many people may be working from home it’s important to find time for stress-relieving activities and distractions from the current situation.
- Work on spring cleaning to not only ease anxiety about the potential disease spreading but relieve stress and help give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment
- Do the household projects you’ve been putting off, like painting your living room or putting up shelves
- Video chat with family and friends using Skype, Discord, Facetime, and other video chat applications
- Play games either with your family or online with friends or strangers
- Catch up your favorite shows and view your favorite movies using Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Crunchyroll, and more
- Stream live TV using a variety of services. You can also stream sports and the MET Opera.
- Catch up on or try new podcasts
- Read or listen to audiobooks
- Attend virtual parishes according to your faith
- Draw, paint, write, play an instrument, or do something else creative to relieve stress
- Bake cookies or cook homemade dinners, or even learn how to cook or bake
- Attend free online university classes to learn something new
- Adopt a dog, cat or another animal
- Look into hobbies you have always wanted to try or work on a hobby you normally don’t have much time for
Don’t Forget the Kids
Adults are not the only ones dealing with potential mental health issues. Children are highly likely to begin experiencing anxiety and depression as well. Mental illnesses present very differently in children than they do in adults, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your kids. Every child presents anxiety and depression differently so watch for changes in your children closely. Symptoms of anxiety and depression in children can include:
- Excessive crying or irritation (usually in infants and toddlers)
- Returning to outgrown behaviors, such as bedwetting and thumbsucking (usually in young children)
- Excessive sadness
- Excessive worry
- Changes in eating and sleeping
- Changes in communication, such as excessive talking or not talking at all
- Irritability and acting out (usually among older kids and teenagers)
- Changes in school performance
- Avoiding school
- Difficulty concentrating
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Headaches and/or body aches
- Use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
Parents should take the time to talk with their child and to explain the COVID outbreak in age-appropriate terms. They can also children cope by reassuring them of their safety, limiting their exposure to news, keeping regular routines, and taking care of themselves. Children with disabilities and special needs may have more intense reactions and are likely to need extra reassurance, explanations, and comfort. They also may show different symptoms than those listed above.
Know Where to Get Help
Just as medical professionals have prepared for an influx of sick patients, therapists, counselors, and various mental health groups are preparing for an influx of patients needing treatment for anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, addiction, and more. Oftentimes people struggling with mental health issues, especially addiction disorders, are dependent are certain social groups that help them cope. Moreover, during times of crisis people often come together to help each other through difficult times. The pandemic has not only increased anxiety levels but forced social isolation that is already having a major impact on the mental wellbeing of the entire country. Some states are already reporting massive increases in calls to mental health hotlines not only from last year but as little as 10 days ago. One of the most important steps you take to safeguard your mental wellbeing is to know where to go for help. Even if you’re stuck in your home, there are resources available in the form of hotlines, apps, and more to help you in the case of worsening symptoms.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Call the Crisis Hotline at 800-950-6264 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. NAMI also has an informative guide on COVID-19 containing information and resources on many aspects of the virus’s impact including mental health resources, business resources, and more.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call the lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): Visit their helpful page containing links to various resources and information on where to go for help due to various issues.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (TTY 1-800-846-8517).
Teletherapy Apps can be a great resource, especially if your regular therapist or counselor is unavailable. A few of these are:
There are also many more apps like Pacifica, Headspace and more that help with learning to be mindful and dealing with anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.
In this time of panic, it is important to look after not only your physical health but also your mental wellbeing. Take your time adjusting to your new normal and working on yourself. Make sure to watch for changes in your children so you can help them with the difficult changes everyone is experiencing. The best thing you can do for yourself is to stay positive, stay connected, and stay in the present.