The COVID-19 pandemic undeniably affected the mental and emotional health of many people. Living through this pandemic has been difficult and has caused anxiety and depression. Managing our mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge that we have to win.
This article will help you understand the symptoms of mental illness, such as the signs of anxiety and depression that you may have developed during the pandemic. Protecting your mental health is a priority and should not be taken for granted.
Emotional and Psychological Impacts of COVID 19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 outbreak has led to depressing stories of death, grief, and loss. Some people lost their livelihood or were unable to visit their loved ones. Others committed suicide because of the loneliness brought about by isolation and measures such as social distancing and lockdowns.
Not being able to travel or spend time with friends and loved ones as often as you used to is upsetting enough. The thought of friends or loved ones fighting for their lives or dying in the hospital? Agonizing. These times will test your emotional and mental resilience. It’s no surprise that pandemic has caused depression, anxiety, and stress to many of us.
Social isolation during this pandemic is a mental and psychological crisis. The loneliness during isolation has negatively impacted both our physical and mental health. Loneliness has deeply affected individuals who do not have any emotional and mental support.
The pandemic’s consequences, such as isolation and financial hardships, have affected the well-being and mental health of even the strongest of us. This is why it’s important to seek support from and connection with others. It is also vital to know the signs of depression and anxiety to recognize them in your loved ones.
Signs of Anxiety and Depression Caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic
Everyone has responded differently to stressful situations during this pandemic. Our coping strategies are not the same. Some have better strategies; some barely have any.
You’ve probably tried to keep yourself calm and level-headed during this crisis. But there might come a time when you will find yourself helpless and overwhelmingly saddened by what is happening around you.
You might be experiencing signs and symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. It is therefore important to keep yourself informed to know when to ask for help.
Anxiety and depression symptoms that last for a week could develop into mental health conditions. Here are some of the signs and symptoms that you should be aware of:
1. The Feeling of Being Overwhelmed by Your Emotions and Persistent Worrying
Watching too much news and reading false information on social media about COVID can be overwhelming for some. Scrolling through posts and being agitated by them may cause anxiety.
Negative news is not healthy for your mental and physical health. It can develop into symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD years later.
Contol your media exposure during these stressful times. Limit the ferquency you check your social media for updates to no more than twice a day. Avoid doing this during bedtime. Lastly, try not to share alarming and depressing news with friends and family members.
2. Excessive Fear of the Unknown
Fear is a good thing. It is an adaptive mechanism that humans have to cope with in the midst of threatening situations. But suppose an individual is unable to handle it. In that case, excessive fear can generate unwanted defense reactions.
Excessive fear can lead to germ aversion (or perceiving that the COVID virus has infected you). Another negative result of fear is the unfair treatment of the people with the COVID-19 virus.
It is crucial to manage and understand fear within the context of the pandemic. Start building up your social connections and receive comfort from your social support system. Allow yourself to feel safe by sharing your concerns with people who genuinely care about you and have your best interests.
3. Lack of Pleasure and Interest in Your Daily Activities
The COVID-19 pandemic has created mental health concerns that we have never expected. We make ourselves believe that we are mentally healthy and strong. But we cannot deny that this pandemic may have taken a toll on our daily lives at some point.
Most of us may be living in situations that we cannot control or are uncertain of. We need time to adapt to temporary unemployment, homeschooling, and a work-at-home setup and be resilient enough to not break in the face of new realities that have been foisted upon us by the pandemic.
We are forced to embrace life at a slower pace in a more isolated setup, without the presence of our friends, classmates, or colleagues. Our daily activities may not be the same as before, but we have to learn to find joy in these stressful times.
Every time you wake up grumpy and irritable, focus on something that you are grateful for. Try to create a positive mood for the day by practicing gratitude the minute you wake up and right before going to sleep. Going through a crisis is hard, but changing to a more healthy routine could always help you get through the day.
4. Excessive Consumption of Alcohol
The anxiety due to COVID-19 has led to the increased need for mental health services. Professional help is needed for mental illnesses such as alcoholism.
During the lockdown, some countries banned the sale of alcoholic drinks so people can follow preventive measures without developing the risk for alcoholism. Some governments have also prevented social gatherings that are occasions for alcohol consumption.
Some of us drink alcoholic beverages to cope with stress and drown our sorrows in times of distress. Excessive alcohol consumption eventually leads to dependence, tolerance, and addiction later.
Yes, alcohol may help you relax and temporarily forget about the struggles of daily life. But in the long-term, it can also make psychological disorders grow worse, affect your immune system, and disrupt your daily routine.
Who Are at Risk for Mental Health Vulnerability During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
1. Healthcare Professionals
First on the list of most at-risk for mental health vulnerability are the health workers. The impact of COVID-19 on our healthcare system has overturned hospital protocols, like hospital workers being forced to take on excessive workloads during the pandemic.
They faced tremendous emotional pain in losing patients, working long shifts, isolating themselves from their families, and getting infected with the disease. Their mental and psychological struggle for sanity has been unremitting for this reason.
Among all age groups, people aged 60 and above are the ones with the highest risk of getting COVID-19. They are instructed to self-isolate and stay home to be protected from infection. The lack of social contact makes them feel neglected and alone, which could cause stress and anxiety.
Some older adults with pre-existing health conditions need a regular check-up. But because of isolation, access to quality healthcare is a dilemma.
Children are among the biggest victims of this pandemic. They are supposed to be free to play at parks, go to school and enjoy strolling in the mall. Instead, they’ve been affected by the socio-economic and psychological impacts of isolation and confinement.
The lack of social contact has affected children more than adults. Imagine how they miss their playmates or grandparents whom they haven’t seen in a while.
4. People with Previous Mental Health Problems Like PTSD
Quarantine and being in isolation can trigger underlying mental health issues. People with psychological disorders need professional help during this crisis. If not, it could lead to substance abuse, PTSD, or, worst, suicide attempts and ideations.
5. People Living in Rural Areas
People living in rural communities are also very vulnerable during this crisis. They’ve been hit with job loss and now have to deal with no or unsteady source of income.
Access to mental healthcare facilities in these areas is more difficult. This can lead to lower mental health outcomes and higher suicide rates. Furthermore, there’s the worry of being sick of COVID. They don’t know where to seek healthcare because public health hospitals tend to be full.
How Do We Overcome the Trauma of COVID-19?
If your answer to the question “Does COVID affect me emotionally?” is no, then you’re lucky. But that’s not the situation for others.
This pandemic has turned our lives around. It made us question our beliefs. But looking on the positive side, traumatic times can also bring about personal growth.
Let us start to embrace what this pandemic has forced upon us, adjusting to a slower pace of lifestyle to notice and appreciate the good things we’ve been taking for granted. It is also time to slow down and reevaluate our life’s priorities. This crisis can allow us to discover parts of ourselves and improve our awareness.
It is normal for humans to experience a wide range of emotions. We should not feel ashamed when we are feeling uncomfortable. Feeling ashamed of your emotions can lead to frustration and sadness.
Having uncomfortable emotions is a healthy response. All you have to do is find someone you trust and can share your thoughts with. Talking to someone can help you relieve stress and protect your mental health.
If you are worried about your mental health and want to learn how to cope with the emotional effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, you could always contact Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC). You can set an appointment on our website KCC Direct Service.
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