No one has escaped the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Among the most pressing issues, mental health has been one of the most prominent. Individuals who may not have suffered too much from mental health problems before are now experiencing drastic mood swings and disorders that are affecting everyday life. Many have wondered how covid-19 has affected mood disorders, and what factors have contributed to its increase during these times. Recognizing how each age group suffers and how to cope is vital in helping ourselves, families, and communities to weather the pandemic.
A person’s background and situation play a huge factor in their mental health during a pandemic, especially those who are statistically at a higher risk of contracting the disease. The most affected groups include individuals;
- Over 60
- With underlying conditions
- With existing mood disorders
- Experiencing financial difficulties
- Who have recently been laid-off
- Who are experiencing homelessness
- Living alone
If you or anyone you know finds themselves in one of these categories, do not be afraid to speak up or seek help. There is a plethora of options available and resources to help.
Effects and Ways to Cope
The excess stressors of life have brought on various mood disorders such as lack of sleep, mania, depression, anxiety, and a feeling of helplessness.
Sleep – It is important to try and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. The pandemic may have upended our lives but maintaining a sleep schedule is important. Trying meditation techniques and having a strict schedule to follow can help you get the sleep your body and mind needs.
Mania – Mania looks different for everyone and can include a range of symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include
- Bursts of energy
- Racing thoughts
- Speaking quickly
- Difficulty concentrating
- Intense anxiety
Some examples of these behaviors in action are, starting home projects but never finishing, spending money you don’t have, or starting an entrepreneurial venture on a whim. This disorder might be more difficult to spot, keep an eye out for the above symptoms and scenarios and speak to a professional if you feel you, or someone you love, could be suffering.
Depression – During the pandemic, the number of those who suffer from depression has gone up drastically. It is crucial to have a plan during these times. We are not conditioned to being confined with little to no human interaction. Families and singles have had to adapt to this new normal, but not everyone has had the tools to deal with these changes.
For those with families, organizing virtual meetups or playdates can help the kids to release their stresses and give them social time. Often, these playdates also end up serving as social time for parents.
For those living alone, finding groups of people online who share similar interests can help immensely. Make sure to stay connected with at least one other person besides yourself. It can also be helpful to make a mental checklist of things that will help you get through the day. This can include spending time on “unproductive” things such as playing video games, reading a book, playing an instrument, etc. Remember, it’s a pandemic, don’t feel bad for taking time to do things that make you feel good.
Anxiety – Since the start of COVID, anxiety has been on the rise. Large amounts of information are constantly fed to the public, and most don’t know how what to do with it. The uncertainty of our world has, naturally, caused many to speculate about what the future may hold, and that’s okay. It is completely normal to be worried and anxious about the unknown, especially during a time like this. However, focusing too much on these thoughts can lead to uncontrollable anxiety.
Three steps to follow during moments of high anxiety are to
- Recognize that worrying is normal
- Mentally stay in the present
- Engage in relaxation techniques
Try setting aside time during the day to worry. Try to only worry during that time and let your feelings and emotions out. Once that time has passed, focus on the things left on your schedule. Then, try to stay mentally present.
It’s easy to fly into the future mentally and think about what might happen, but the truth is, when it comes to a pandemic, there is very little we can control outside of ourselves. Staying mentally present will allow you to perform well on the tasks and work at hand. Lastly, remember to constantly engage in relaxation techniques throughout the day. These could be breathing techniques, eye techniques, muscle techniques, etc. Whatever you feel your body needs, make sure to address the issue.
Take It Easy and Get Help
No one could have accurately predicted 2020. Many of the things that have happened this year have been out of anyone’s control. Practicing coping techniques every day can go a long way in helping the mental health in our communities. Individuals should make sure to have “me” time, go outside whenever possible, limit their screen time, cut themselves some slack, and check in on loved ones often. If needed, ask for help. Foothills Neurology is here to listen and create a personalized plan to help you get through these difficult times.