Updated: Jan 24, 2021
With the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19, many people are facing a large amount of stress as the situation around them feels out of their control. People with ongoing mental health issues are facing quite the challenge, and people who do not normally face mental health issues may be finding themselves in the same boat. Fear of getting COVID-19 or any disease can cause intense anxiety and even depression. Finding ways to cope and relieve anxiety or depression are extremely important right now, especially when so many are staying home with limited interaction with others.
Humans are social creatures; for the most part, we crave social interactions. Even the most shy, quiet introvert has at least one person they can talk to and interact with. It's why placing people in isolation is a punishment in prisons. Right now, we're all tasting a little bit of that punishment. COVID-19 has forced us to stay home away from social interactions and isolate ourselves. No surprise, the isolation is causing some to develop depression. Developing depression while under quarantine can be a little tricky because it can easily go unnoticed.
Signs of depression include:
changes in eating habits
sleeping too little or too much
loss of interest in hobbies
feeling more tired than normal
being irritable or restless
long periods of feeling anxious or forlorn
For someone who is home all day every day, for weeks on end, these symptoms would appear normal and would go unnoticed. Other symptoms that could be missed are symptoms of anxiety.
nervousness or restlessness
feeling of impending danger
rapid heart rate and/or breathing
obsessing over certain things
Being fearful of getting a disease is normal. Obsessing over it and causing yourself constant panic is not.
While being quarantined to protect our physical health, it is important that we do not leave our mental health unchecked. Watch for these symptoms in yourself or others, if possible, and look for ways to relieve the stress of COVID-19.
Take time away from news stations and social media. Constant coverage and posts about the disease give little time to dwell on anything else and will give you more unnecessary anxiety. Give your mind some fresh content. Start a new book or television series. Listen to some music.
Use this time to begin new hobbies or expand on old ones. Learn to cook or try new recipes. Paint, draw, or craft something new. Start or maintain a garden. You now have all 24 hours in a day at your disposal.
If you are quarantined with family, this is a great time to connect with each other. Life before COVID-19 was fast paced. With kids and parents both home, we can take the time to know and love each other in ways we did not have the time to do before.
Remember that it is okay to ask for help. Many healthcare providers offer online sources to speak directly to a mental health professional. Use these tools if you feel like you cannot manage your mental health on your own.
Returning to work after a long period of being isolated can be stressful as well. If you already have anxiety, going back to work may be even more stressful for you. Worrying about getting COVID-19 does not suddenly stop just because you are going back to work. There is the chance that being around even small groups of people will make your anxiety worse. Try not to focus on COVID-19 related news or conversations before and during work. Also take CDC recommended protective measures like wearing a cloth mask in public and washing hands frequently to reassure yourself. And if you start to feel overwhelmed, take a break and relax. Don’t be afraid to speak with your boss about things if you still feel uncomfortable being out in public. These are unprecedented times and they may be willing to help.
By: Better Me by Dr. B
Editor: Ariel Thompson
Medical Reviewer: Dr. Tiffany Bell D.O.