How Has Covid-19 Affected Your Mental Health?
Covid-19 is a global public health emergency caused by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The virus was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, China. Since then, the number of infected individuals worldwide has exceeded 3 million.
As the outbreak continues, experts predict that the impact on mental health will be severe. In fact, some researchers believe that the current crisis could trigger a new wave of anxiety disorders.
Rise In Mental Illness And Substance Use Disorder During The Pandemic
While the impact of COVID-19 on mental health during the current outbreak is still being studied, it appears that there are several factors that could potentially contribute to increased rates of mental disorders and mental health impacts such as anxiety and depression among Americans. These include:
– Increased exposure to traumatic events related to COVID-19, including fear of infection, death, and disruption of daily routines;
– Worsening financial situation caused by unemployment and underemployment;
– Ongoing uncertainty about the future;
– Lack of access to social distancing practices;
– Changes to social norms regarding face coverings and hand hygiene, which may increase feelings of vulnerability;
– Effects of quarantine and self-isolation on sleep patterns and overall quality of life; and
– Impact of stress on immune system function.
In addition to these factors, many people have reported experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as other anxiety disorders due to their experiences with the novel coronavirus.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), PTSD occurs when someone experiences or witnesses an event that causes them to feel intense fear, helplessness, horror or grief. This trauma triggers flashbacks and nightmares and makes it difficult for the person to think clearly.
Other common signs of PTSD include feeling constantly anxious, irritable, angry, sad, guilty, numb, or hopeless.
If you experience any of these symptoms after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, please seek help from a medical professional immediately.
COVID-19 & Addiction
Addiction is another factor that could affect mental health during this time. According to the NIAAA, addiction affects more than 20% of adults in the United States. It also impacts nearly 1 in 5 children.
Alcohol abuse and dependence are two of the most commonly diagnosed addictions. Alcohol use is associated with numerous negative consequences , including impaired judgment, memory loss, liver damage, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, sexual dysfunction, violence, suicide, accidents, and unintentional injuries.
Alcohol use can lead to addiction if repeated use leads to tolerance, withdrawal, craving, compulsive use, and/or continued use despite harmful consequences.
People who struggle with alcohol abuse often turn to substances like opioids, cocaine , marijuana, methamphetamine, and benzodiazepines to manage their cravings. However, these drugs can cause serious problems such as overdose, addiction and even death.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, people who suffer from substance use disorders may find themselves using more frequently and at higher doses. They may also be exposed to greater risk of contracting the virus.
If you or someone you know has a history of substance misuse, please contact your local treatment center today.
If you or someone you care about struggles with an addiction, please visit naloxone.org to learn more about the lifesaving medication Narcan®.
Adults Who Lose Jobs Or Fall Into Financial Hardship
During the COVID-19 pandemic, adults experiencing household job loss or income insecurity have consistently reported higher levels of symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to those without job loss or income insecurity.
Among adults reporting household job loss, nearly half (47%) say they experience some level of anxiety or depression due to concerns about losing their jobs or being unable to pay bills. This compares to 30% of adults reporting no household job loss.
Among adults reporting household income insecurity, 42% say they experience some level anxiety or depression due to worries about paying rent or mortgage payments. This compares to 26% of adults reporting no income insecurity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread job losses, especially among workers who make less than $50,000 per year. However, even among those who do not lose their jobs, there is evidence that the economic downturn has had significant effects on families. For example, the recent KFF Health Tracking Poll found that one third of Americans (33%) say they are worried about losing their current job because of the coronavirus, including 25% who say they are very worried.
In addition, many households are struggling financially due to lost wages and reduced hours for employees, as well as reduced sales tax revenue for states and municipalities. In fact, the U.S. economy contracted by 6.8% between February 2020 and March 2020, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Essential Workers Poor Mental Health During The Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemics has had a significant impact on the mental health of essential workers. More than half of those surveyed reported experiencing anxiety or depression because of the pandemic.
In addition, nearly one quarter of essential workers reported increased alcohol or drug use, while 22% considered suicide due to the pandemic.
These findings come from a survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The NIMH study included responses from 2,823 adults across the United States. Participants completed a web-based questionnaire about their experiences related to COVID-19.
In response to questions about their own mental health during the pandemic, respondents were asked if they experienced any of the following in the past week:
• Anxiety or depression
• Increased alcohol or drug use
• Thoughts of suicide.
Respondents could select multiple options for each question.
The results showed that 47% of participants said they experienced anxiety or depression during the pandemic. Of these, 35% said they felt anxious all or most of the time, and 12% said they felt depressed all or most of the times.
Nearly one quarter (24 %) of respondents said they used alcohol or drugs more frequently during the pandemic. And 15 % said they thought about suicide at least once.
The survey also revealed that women were significantly more likely than men to report feeling anxious or depressed during the pandemic. Women were also more likely than men to increase their alcohol or drug use during the pandemic.
“We know that people with mental illness face barriers to accessing care,” says Dr. James Blumenthal, director of the NIMH.
Mental illness was common among essential workers. Nearly three quarters of those surveyed (72 %) said they have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. These conditions include:
• Generalized anxiety disorder
• Panic attacks
• Posttraumatic stress disorder
• Social phobia
• Obsessive compulsive disorder
• Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
• Bipolar disorder
• Substance abuse
• Eating disorders.
Many of these conditions are treatable. But many others require long term treatment.
As noted above, the survey also found that women were more likely than men to experience anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. This finding held true regardless of whether the respondent was employed full time or part time.
Women were also more likely than male respondents to say they drank more alcohol or used illicit substances during the pandemic. However, this difference did not hold true for respondents who worked full time.
Dr Blumenthal says that it’s important for people to know that there are some gender-based issues when it comes to mental illness. “But we need to remember that both genders are equally affected by the pandemic. We must work together to support everyone as they navigate through this challenging time.”
Parenting During The Pandemic Has Changed Drastically For Parents And Children Alike
Children and adolescents are often the most vulnerable members of the household. They depend on their caregivers for physical care and emotional support.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, families are facing significant challenges, including economic hardship, increased stress, and disrupted social lives. As a result, children and adolescents are experiencing increased levels of anxiety, depression and loneliness.
The impact of these factors on children and adolescents’ mental health is particularly concerning given the fact that they are still developing physically and emotionally. This includes cognitive development, emotional regulation, self-concept, identity formation, peer relationships, and academic achievement.
In addition, research suggests that children and adolescents are more susceptible to negative effects of prolonged disruptions to normal life patterns, such as those caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Parents and guardians should take steps to help protect their children from the harmful effects of the pandemic. Here are some tips:
• Talk to your child about what you’re going through. Explain why you’re feeling stressed out, worried, sad, angry or frustrated. Ask them if they’ve noticed any changes in their mood or behavior.
• Be patient and understanding. Your child may feel anxious, depressed or overwhelmed. Try to remain calm and reassuring.
• Keep your child safe. If possible, limit contact with other people. Limit screen time and unstructured play. Encourage exercise.
• Provide structure. Set up regular routines and rituals. Make sure your child has access to healthy food and drink.
• Help your child develop coping skills. Teach them ways to manage stress and deal with difficult emotions.
• Connect with others. Find opportunities to connect with friends and family online. Consider joining an online community.
• Take breaks. Get outside and enjoy nature. Go for walks, hikes, bike rides or runs. Play games like tag or hide-and-seek. This is important for your physical health.
• Stay connected. Use technology to keep in touch with family and friends.
Policies And Considerations
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, leading public heath organizations — including the CDC; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); the World Health Organization (WHO); and the UN — have released general considerations, recommendations, and resources regarding the mental health and well being of both the general population and specific, high- risk groups during the pandemic, such as children, pregnant women, people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) and older adults.
In the U.S., there have been some important policy responses to the pandemic’s impact upon mental health and substance use disorders, including the passage of legislation to provide additional funds for mental health and substance abuse treatment, and Medicaid expansion under the CARES Act.
However, given the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic, it is unlikely that we will see comprehensive solutions to the mental health needs arising from the COVID-19 outbreak anytime soon.
For example, while the federal government has provided $2 billion in funding to address the mental health needs of PLWHAs, this amount is only a fraction of the estimated $100 billion needed annually to meet the mental health needs of all PLWHAs.
Similarly, although the CARES Act provides funding for states to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals, it does not include provisions to cover those who do not qualify for Medicaid but still need mental health services.
Furthermore, even after the crisis subsides, many people will continue to experience long-term impacts on their mental health due to the loss of employment, income, housing and other basic necessities. The economic fallout of the pandemic could also lead to increased rates of homelessness among vulnerable populations.
With these realities in mind, SAMHSA recently launched a new website to help inform the public about the potential mental health effects of the COVID-19 response. This site includes information on what to expect if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or suicidal thoughts or behaviors, as well as tips for managing these conditions.
Additionally, SAMHSA has developed a series of fact sheets that describe the current state of research related to the mental health effects of the coronavirus outbreak. These fact sheets highlight the most pressing questions around the topic, including whether the virus causes more severe mental illness than seasonal flu, and whether certain populations are at higher risk for developing mental health problems.
Finally, SAMHSA has created a resource page that contains links to relevant news articles, scientific studies, and other materials that can help educate the public about the mental health implications of the COVID- 19 outbreak.
Covid-19 and Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has put many people under stress, especially those who are working from home, resulting in negative impacts. While staying inside during the coronavirus outbreak provides some relief, it can lead to loneliness, isolation and even depression. Many Americans are turning to online resources for support.
However, there are risks associated with relying too heavily on social media. People may feel compelled to post about their daily lives on Facebook or Instagram, and this could lead to negative consequences like cyberbullying, self-harm and other forms of abuse.
In addition, many people rely on social media to keep up with friends and family members, which can make it difficult to focus on personal goals and activities.
Take care of yourself mentally
The American Psychological Association says it’s common for people to experience anxiety during stressful situations. But there are ways you can reduce stress and improve your mood.
One way is to maintain a regular daily schedule. Another is to stick to a regular bedtime ritual. And another is to incorporate some form of relaxation into your daily routine.
Reduce Stress Triggers
Keep your regular routine. If you’re used to waking up at 5 am every day, try waking up earlier and working out later. If you’ve been sleeping late, wake up early and go to bed early.
Maintain a Regular Schedule
In addition to keeping a regular sleep schedule, follow a regular meal schedule. Eating breakfast regularly helps you start your day off on a positive note. Consistent eating habits help you avoid emotional overeating.
Keep Your Routines Consistent
Stick to a regular schedule for bathing, dressing and grooming. When you have a consistent routine, you don’t have to think about what you’ll wear each morning. You can wear whatever you want.
Keep up your self-care routines
Stressful situations often lead people to eat unhealthy foods like fast food or sugary treats. But it doesn’t have to be that way. To help reduce stress, try making small changes to your lifestyle. For example, you might start by taking better care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Doing things like eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and setting aside time for relaxation and fun are ways to take good care of your mind.
Ask for help when you need it
A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that people who try to ignore signs of mental illness are actually making things worse.
Researchers asked participants to complete a survey about whether they had experienced certain emotions over the previous week. They concluded that those who reported feeling better about themselves tended to report having fewer negative thoughts and less intense emotional reactions. Those who felt worse about themselves showed no change in self-esteem, but did show increases in negative thinking and emotionality.
The researchers say that ignoring these signs could make matters worse. People who feel depressed tend to withdraw socially and avoid activities that might bring them out of their state of mind. This makes them feel even worse and leads to further isolation.
If you find yourself struggling with stress, talk to someone. A therapist can help you identify underlying causes of stress and develop coping strategies.
Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook provide an outlet for people to share their experiences and connect with others. But using social media as a source of comfort can also cause problems. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that people who use social media excessively may become addicted to its effects. It can cause feelings of loneliness and depression if used too often.
Social media addiction has been linked to other health issues including obesity, heart disease and cancer. So if you’re already experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, it’s important to limit your exposure to social media.
Avoid stigma: don’t let people discriminate against you
Stigma can make people feel excluded and alone. It makes people feel ashamed and guilty. It can cause depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. It can also lead to isolation and loneliness.
People who experience stigma may be denied access to critical healthcare services because of bias and prejudice. This could mean they don’t receive treatment for diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, mental illness, substance abuse and hepatitis B and C. And it might prevent people from seeking out testing, screening and preventive measures.
This is especially true for people who identify as members of certain communities, such as people of Asian descent, people living with HIV/AIDS, people who use drugs, homeless individuals, LGBTQ+ people and immigrants.
The coronavirus outbreak has brought renewed attention to concerns around stigma and discrimination.
Connect with people
The coronavirus outbreak forced most people across the globe into lockdown mode, limiting our ability to connect with one another. But we must continue to build strong personal relationships during this challenging time. Here are some ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
• Connect online. Use Zoom, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Skype to keep in touch with friends and colleagues.
• Stay in touch via text messages. Texting is easy, fast and free, and it doesn’t require the use of technology.
• Keep up with news and events. News apps like CNN and BBC News provide live coverage and information about what’s happening around the world.
• Watch out for symptoms. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat and diarrhea.
• Wash your hands often. Clean your hands frequently throughout the day and immediately after touching objects or surfaces that could potentially contain germs.
• Avoid close contact. When possible, maintain six feet or greater distance from people outside your household.
Communities of color; black, latino
Black and Hispanic Americans are facing disproportionate burdens of COVID-19 disease and death. They experience higher rates of infection and mortality than do white Americans. And, there are many reasons why.
The coronavirus pandemic has already had a devastating effect on minority populations, particularly black and Latino families. In fact, the majority of those who died from COVID-19 in New York City were African American and Latino.
In response to the pandemic, the federal government has taken steps to protect vulnerable groups, including providing additional funding for testing and treatment. But it has done little to address the underlying causes of inequity, such as racism and poverty.
A recent study found that Black and Latino students were more than twice as likely to miss school because of concerns about contracting the virus, and nearly three times as likely to fear being tested for the virus.
Additionally, Black and Latino people are more likely to live in crowded housing and rely on public transportation, factors that make them more susceptible to the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 is an unprecedented global health crisis. It will affect everyone. We need to work together to overcome these challenges.
We should not allow the coronavirus outbreak to become a new normal. It is important to remember that mental health issues are common among people of all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexual orientations and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Remember, mental health problems can affect anyone at any time. If you think you might have a problem, please seek professional help.