The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of changes worldwide. Whatever industry you’re in, the pandemic may have hit you hard or low. Some even declared bankruptcy, while others have lost their jobs big-time. Not only does the pandemic affected the business industry, but also the health industry, particularly the mental health industry.

When it comes to the mental health industry, many have suffered. Since the new normal requires social distancing, stoppage of visiting entertainment places, as well as the closing of clinics and other mental health services, people are to stay at home.

With such, the pandemic becomes a threat to people’s mental health for the following reasons:

1. Increased Anxiety

The COVID-19 is indeed frightening. Before, even officials didn’t take the virus seriously thinking that it won’t become as serious as it is now. The US alone has more than 50,000 cases for the past days while death tolls all over the world are increasing as well. That’s why many nations have become stricter in implementing measures to contain the virus.

One of the strategies that many countries have done is to close their borders from tourists. That means only their residents can come inside their territories. Even countries that don’t have too many COVID-19 cases have braced themselves to lessen the pandemic’s negative effects. Because of this, many people are restricted to stay in their homes, unless buying for essential needs or emergency purposes.

What’s more, even experts aren’t sure when the pandemic will cease, causing people to become anxious over time. A lot of people overthink and get overwhelmed because of negative thoughts from thinking when their daily lives will come back to normal or whether they’ll contract the virus. Overthinking negative thoughts may eventually lead to anxiety.

There are many reasons why one can become anxious because of the pandemic. The following are the most common causes, which is why you may need to ask help from experts as anxiety counselers can help you navigate stress from COVID:

  • Physical Isolation: Since non-essential travels are not allowed, you may have spent your months without social interaction – where you physically meet with friends. Naturally, although not applicable to some people, humans are social animals. It means that people normally want connection.

However, COVID-19 made it hard to socialize with other people. As a result, you might withdraw, and it’ll be one cause of anxiety.

  • Cancelled Plans: Unexpectedly, you might need to change your previous way of living. For instance, your child’s schooling or your way of doing your job. Doing so might get you anxious, especially that many people have gotten the virus by being outside their homes.

Also, if you’re planning to make a big event this year, it might get you anxious thinking about cancelling all the efforts you’ve put into it.

  • Overwhelming News: Another source of anxiety is the news. Sometimes, it can even make you fear what’s ahead or even going out. This is especially true if you’re living in the same street with a COVID-19 patient, or your loved ones are working in an exposed environment. Worse, with incessant worrying about things you hear on TV or read on social media, it may even result in insomnia.

With so many things that can increase people’s anxiety during this pandemic, you need to brace yourself up against such mental health illness. Even if you’re at home all the time, you can beat anxiety by doing the following:

  • Change how you see things – instead of worrying about your social interactions, think of social distancing and physical isolation as a way to focus on yourself. Thus, during the pandemic, you may do self-development and meditative activities.

But, of course, you shouldn’t forget about your friends and loved ones. Stay in touch with them via phone calls or video calls. That way, you can still have human interactions, but in a virtual way.

  • If your plans don’t have chances of being done this year, then think of other ways to develop your ideas or plans. By doing so, you may find some areas that need to be polished or developed.

In one way, the COVID-19 may be saving you more money and effort.

  • As for the bad news, filter them. Instead of believing everything you hear and read, follow reputable and trusted news sites. Do this so that you’ll stay in the loop about the pandemic, but not to worry about everything.

2. Triggered PTSD

Another mental illness that the COVID-19 has triggered is PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Even mentally healthy people can get PTSD. For instance, if a loved one dies due to COVID-19, one may experience PTSD.

Although PTSD affects people in various ways, some may experience trauma by experiencing, learning, or witnessing it. PTSD symptoms may happen right after the trauma, but for some, they experience it years or months after the trauma.

That’s why the COVID-19 has not only been a danger for a person’s well-being but is most especially dangerous to PTSD patients.

Whether you’re the one experiencing it or your loved ones, you should look out for these symptoms that the pandemic may have caused:

  • Some people may become easily startled as they may lack concentration and sleep.
  • Some tend to forget that other people love them, so they end up changing their thoughts about their surroundings as well as about themselves.
  • For some, they may try to avoid situations that remind them of similar trauma.
  • Worse, they’ll experience flashbacks or nightmares.

These symptoms and signs may occur during the pandemic because of the following:

  • Trauma, like difficulty breathing, may trigger PTSD symptoms by witnessing others wear masks. Since the pandemic requires people to wear a mask as protection against the virus, this may be difficult for people suffering from breathing difficulty.
  • Since the pandemic even lets people heighten their guards up like they’re in a war, people with PTSD brought by war may feel uneasy hearing about how others fight such pandemic.
  • Although being on guard is one of the best defenses against the virus, this feeling may intensify your concerns if you have PTSD. With such, every precaution you take may be overrated. For instance, you may not want to go out even to buy your necessities thinking that you might easily get the virus outside your door.

Being aware of your mental health condition is a must if you have PTSD. If you haven’t been diagnosed with one, then look out for the signs and symptoms. That way, you can prevent worse case scenarios that may happen as some people who have PTSD becomes deadly. Some may unconsciously kill themselves, or some may harm others thinking that they’re a threat.

To prevent these things, you can do the following:

  • As mentioned above, you should stay connected with family or loved ones. Being social, even when done online, should be one of your preventive measures. By doing so, you can get the love and support you need, especially if they know your situation.
  • You may contact PTSD experts online. Even when physical clinics are closed, there are many professionals online whom you can ask for help. Better yet, you can contact your former psychologist to make online sessions.
  • Use calming techniques when you feel your emotions are on a high. Some techniques need regular practice, like eating healthy foods, taking in medication, avoiding dreadful news, and doing yoga. That way, you can decrease your levels of stress that may eventually trigger your PTSD.

3. Heightened Levels Of Depression

If not trauma, COVID-19 may cause clinical depression to many. Even experts believe that the pandemic may cause an epidemic of depression. Because COVID-19 may cause one to become exhausted, empty, irritable, and sad, this may lead, when aggravated, to depression.

When these emotional components of depression take over one’s body, the person may feel unmotivated, inattentive, and inability to solve simple problems. Although some forms of depression are genetic, most clinical depressions also come from environmental stress. And COVID-19 is the best example of such stressor.

Here’s how the pandemic is causing levels of depression to many people:

  • Many people experienced the death of loved ones due to COVID-19. This experience may not only bring in trauma but also causes grief and exhaustion. If these emotions continuously compound, one may fall into depression.
  • Another cause of depression is when a person suffers from financial difficulties. If you’re one of the many who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic, you may find it difficult to cope. With financial difficulties, other difficult life situations may follow, like losing your business, properties, and piling up of debts.

When unable to cope up financially, it may increase your chances to become depressed.

  • Again, isolation can cause loneliness, which is the breeder of depression. Especially if you’re living alone, you may find it hard to survive without social interaction for a long time.

That’s why during this pandemic, it’s best to increase the happy hormones in your body. It means that you should avoid being lonely for a long time. To keep you away from loneliness or stressors that can lead to depression, you can do the following:

  • Again, you shouldn’t over worry about the pandemic although it’s a serious situation. You must avoid prolonged exposure to news about the COVID-19 so that you won’t risk being anxious. Instead, watch funny videos or movies to forget that you’ll be home for a long time.
  • Calm yourself by getting enough sunlight. Although you don’t need to go away from your house, it’s enough that you take in sunlight surrounding your home. By doing so, you can boost your mood since sunlight increases serotonin levels. In layman’s term, serotonin has something to do with happiness.
  • Another way to boost your endorphins is to do home workouts. Boosting your endorphins means getting hormones to respond to stress positively. With such, you’re not only letting out the stress come, but you’re also enabling your hormones to boost your mood and relieve stress.

4. Slowed Down Mental Illness Measures

Not only are businesses down, but as well as mental health services. Since physical clinics are closed during the pandemic, patients with occurring mental health illnesses cannot easily get the medication they need. Although virtual consultations may be available for some psychologists, many patients may feel different about it.

Some may even think that it’s way different from getting a physical interaction with their psychologists. With such, people with mental health problems may be at risk. Unless they’ll get used to the new normal of telemedicine, they may suffer longer during this pandemic. Telemedicine talks about taking consultations and check-ups virtually.

Since COVID-19 requires people to keep their distance as much as possible, the mental health services must find ways to operate as they can’t stay closed throughout the pandemic. That calls for telemedicine – the use of technology and virtual appointments are done.

Moreover, the rise of people suffering from various mental health problems may be a threat to mental health services. Since there are only a few professionals offering mental health services, people with such problems may find it hard to book appointments. The longer they’re left with their mental health problems, the longer they suffer.

Although the government needs to give support to the mental health industry by making resolutions and funds to address the increasing numbers of mentally ill persons, you should keep yourself mentally healthy, too. That’s why it’s best to start making yourself healthy so that your body can keep up with the stress that the pandemic is bringing. Then, keep yourself occupied. You may create your schedule for days when you’re at home by listing down the activities you need to do.

By focusing on things to keep your mind busy, you can avoid focusing on the pandemic, unless you’re a frontliner.

Conclusion:

Although the priority is to ease the spread of COVID-19 and treat people infected with the virus, preventing the rise of people suffering from mental health problems should also be a concern. It’s because the pandemic is not only stressful but even increases anxiety for many people. Some people even develop PTSD as the pandemic takes its toll.

The COVID-19 may even trigger PTSD patients as the pandemic may be similar to some people’s trauma. Or, for some, their levels of depression heighten because of the environmental stress from the pandemic.

Since COVID-19 measures affect how mental health services operate, people suffering from mental health problems get medications at a slow pace. As a result, it may aggravate their mental health problems.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "How Covid-19 Has Affected People’s Mental Health," in Medicalopedia, July 18, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/9084/how-covid-19-has-affected-peoples-mental-health/].