There is no playbook for COVID-19.
There is no guideline that explains how isolation should be done, how hospitals should be prepared, or what we can expect when businesses begin opening again.
The truth is, much of what we are doing is unscripted, unknowable, and uncertain.
And that, it turns out, could be creating a great deal of anxiety, fear, and even depression for Americans.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and isolation efforts in March, Americans have been reporting increasing pressure on their mental health, according to research from Healthline conducted through YouGovs COVID-19 tracker.
Whether its because theyve lost a job or fear losing one, theyre struggling to piece together money to pay bills, or theyre worried about their health and safety (or that of everyone in their house), the continuous onslaught of worry and insecurity is leading to greater mental health issues than before.
Today, Americans are reporting more symptoms and signs of depression, anxiety, and fear than historic norms. Whats more, the same Healthline poll found that this increase has been sustained for several weeks and showing no signs yet of fading.
Three in five Americans reported that they fear theyll contract the virus, according to YouGovs COVID-19 tracker conducted between April 13th and April 20th.
And the effects of this fear may not be felt equally in all groups: Women report being concerned more than men (64 percent to 55 percent).
Not surprisingly, perhaps, people with preexisting health issues also reported higher rates of fear and anxiety.
Hispanic people were nearly twice as likely to say theyre very scared compared to white people (29 percent to 16 percent). Twenty-six percent of black people were very scared in the survey.
Surprisingly, people in younger age groups were more likely to rate themselves as very scared of getting sick.
Twenty-two percent of adults 18 to 34 years old said they were very scared, but only 16 percent of people 55+ considered themselves very scared.
And the self-reported incidence of depression is also higher than historic norms right now.
In our survey, 49 percent of respondents showed some signs of depression, ranging from mild to severe, as measured by the PHQ-4 scale, a standardized measure of anxiety and depression.
Historically, that number is around 37 percent.
Its important to note that the comparative data for the depression norms come from research conducted in Germany, so its not necessarily representative of Americans.
In fact, Bernd Lwe, the researcher for the story, which first ran in 2009 in the journal Psychosomatics, told Healthline that, In some studies the levels of depression and anxiety are slightly higher in the USA than in Germany. This should be taken into account in the interpretation.
Still, comparisons show that the rate of these mental health issues are likely up and still climbing.
Depression, like anxiety and fear, often has clear symptoms: a depressed mood; feeling sad, empty, or hopeless; having difficulty with day-to-day tasks; increased fatigue; and sleep difficulties.
Among the most concerning symptoms of depression are thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, and developing a plan for suicide.
Even anxietys signs and symptoms are usually easily recognized. People with generalized anxiety tend to worry excessively and find it difficult to control that worry or stop it, even with logic.
This can lead to feelings of being on edge, and it may cause symptoms like sleep disturbances and even heart palpitations.
But theres one problem with recognizing these conditions right now: Everything is all kind of messed up. And that makes spotting symptoms hard.
Some of these symptoms can be challenging to spot right now, says Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD, MSN, MPA, a board certified geriatric and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, licensed psychologist, and member of Healthlines Medical Affairs team.
In the early weeks of the epidemic, flour, sugar, yeast, and other baking products disappeared from grocery store shelves. Some people may attribute weight gain to the fact that their gyms are closed and that they have been baking or cooking more than they had been, while others may be experiencing weight loss that may be due to depressive symptoms and dismissing it as, Well, Im not doing much, so I havent been hungry.
Changes in sleep patterns or insomnia could also be considered symptoms of a larger problem.
Another symptom that can be challenging one that is easy to explain away has to do with changes in sleep. Why wouldnt I sleep a bit more? I dont have anywhere to go, or Im catching up on sleep that I dont get usually! Legg says.
All of these sound like plausible excuses and ways to explain away some features that may signify depression or anxiety.
Thats precisely what makes spotting burgeoning mental health issues problematic and it may be what keeps people from seeking help if they need it. Its hard to know what is to be expected and what isnt.
Fear is a normal and adaptive response to a perceived threat, says Carla Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Santa Rosa, California, and author of Joy from Fear.
When feelings of fear are evoked, an individual will respond instinctively with a fight or flight response.
This response, however, is meant to be temporary. Its meant to help us in a moment of intense emotional need; its not meant to last weeks, even months, as it is right now.
When fear becomes chronic, the fight or flight stress response remains chronic. This can create anxiety, ongoing stress, depression, suicidality, Manly says. The individual may feel irritable, exhausted, anxious, hyper-vigilant, angry, and emotionally dysregulated.
Couple that with other behavior changes likely occurring during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, like irregular eating and sleeping patterns and shifting energy use, and its a recipe for mental health disaster.
Everyone is worried, so it can be difficult to pick out what is clinically significant anxiety that may warrant help from the anxiety everyone is having at such uncertain times, says Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology.
Apathy is another. Lots of people are reporting lethargy from a loss of schedule, loss of social stimulation, loss of routine, and loss of job. Its not surprising under these conditions, but it raises the specter of whether it is clinically significant.
She continues, Social isolation is something that can be a marker of mental health issues, but we need to dig deeper and determine whether it is a by-product of distancing, or an avoidance of other people through platforms that are available.
In short, recognizing the signs and symptoms that anxiety, depression, and fear cause is harder now than ever, and it falls on individuals and professionals alike to find resources that can help figure out whats normal, whats not, and where help may be best focused.
What can feel difficult to grasp on bad days during the COVID-19 pandemic is that everything you feel is understandable and often unavoidable.
But its also not entirely unique, and you are not alone.
The experts Healthline spoke with offered some resources and tips, both traditional and newly acquired in these times, for coping with the mental health changes so many are experiencing.
I highly recommend finding therapists who are providing treatment online, Legg says. He points to sources like the American Psychological Associations Psychologist Locator as one way to find someone.
I have transitioned most of my practice to the online environment as a result of COVID-19, he says, and my clients seem to have taken well to it. I have also had a group of people who were not regular patients per se, but just wanted to check in for some support. The use of telepsych has truly helped.
Even smartphone apps for therapy allow you to connect with a mental health expert. While not free, many of these services offer lower-cost alternatives to traditional psychotherapy.
No one has experienced this. No one should expect to get it right. As Legg reminds, this is like nothing else weve ever experienced.
These are trying and fearful times, he says. Allowing yourself to experience natural emotions without judging those emotions can be powerful.
Ramani adds that you should pace yourself. Grocery shopping takes time now, she says.
Its no longer about popping in for a quart of milk. Recognize that some things are taking longer, and that you may not be as productive as always.
Let a wash of calm overwhelm you and help you find a bit of solitude when youre feeling untethered.
A few deep breaths with eyes closed and feet firmly planted on the ground can actually do wonders, Ramani says.
Find some time to exercise, Legg says. Clearly you cant get to the gym, but even if it is doing laps around your house or pulling out a few cans of soup to make improvised weights, exercise can be quite beneficial for stress and overall mood.
He also suggests checking out YouTube for some videos you can do, too.
Routine is important for all of us, but all the more so when a person is struggling with anxiety, sadness, and other issues, Ramani says.
Dont be too aspirational or perfectionistic in the schedule. Keep it simple, but have one a wake-up time, a routine upon waking, a goal for the morning, a goal for the afternoon, some form of activity, and pleasurable activities. This can be difficult for someone who is experiencing apathy, but even just having a wake-up time can be a start.
You cant make physical contact, but you can make contact with others nonetheless. Try FaceTime or Zoom with your family, Ramani suggests.
Even online support groups can connect you with others, Ramani says.
Nothing about the days we are living in is normal.
There is no previous experience with which to compare, except what was before we had ever heard of COVID-19.
And that comparison shows us that Americans are feeling more depression, anxiety, and fear than normal. But there is help if you need it.
This is an incredibly challenging time. Never have Americans experienced a pandemic that has impacted employment, education, and the economy the way COVID-19 has, Legg says.
We are all living in very stressful and uncertain times right now. If you are feeling stress and are noticing that it is impacting your mood, sleep, or eating patterns, dont wait. Get help. You will be glad that you did.
YouGov, an international research data and analytics group, has been running a weekly global COVID-19 tracker across 26 countries, including the United States, since March 12, 2020, to explore and track the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on peoples lives.
On April 3, 2020, Healthline Media incorporated five custom questions as part of the YouGov COVID-19 Tracker, which are being reported on a biweekly basis.
The tracker includes a total of 1,000 responses every other week.
Read the original here:
What COVID-19 Is Doing to Our Mental Health - Healthline
- This town of 170,000 replaced some cops with medics and mental health workers. It's worked for over 30 years - CNN - July 5th, 2020
- Donnelly: Progress on horizon for mental health - The Columbian - July 5th, 2020
- Mental health strain on firefighters must not be swept under the rug - Las Vegas Sun - July 5th, 2020
- People in mental health crises need help, not handcuffs - STAT - STAT - July 5th, 2020
- Mental health myth: Mental illness is the same for people of all races - BlueRidgeNow.com - July 5th, 2020
- Pandemic mental health: the urgency of self-care - The European Sting - July 5th, 2020
- JOHN ROSEMOND: Is there a child/teen mental health crisis? - Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal - July 5th, 2020
- Peak Wellness Center to host webinar focused on Minority Mental Health Awareness Month - Wyoming Tribune - July 5th, 2020
- Mental Health Greensboro Offers Support This Summer - The Rhino TImes - July 5th, 2020
- Love Island's Belle Hassan opens up on mental health - digitalspy.com - July 5th, 2020
- Providing mental health support for youths affected by COVID-19 - Swinburne University of Technology - July 5th, 2020
- How the Cult of Sleep-Deprivation Affects Work and Mental Health - Harvard Business Review - July 5th, 2020
- Can snoring affect mental health? Heres what you need to know - The Indian Express - July 5th, 2020
- Mental health expert suggests ways for coping with coronavirus crisis - The News International - July 5th, 2020
- Swimming out of the darkness: How cold-water swimming helps with mental health - ABC News - July 5th, 2020
- Mohena Kumari on Covid-19 isolation affecting mental health: I had a lot of anxiety during those d... - Hindustan Times - July 5th, 2020
- Anand Mahindra believes we may be confronting a mental health crisis. Here's why - Times Now - July 5th, 2020
- How neuro-knowledge can help us find happiness and improve mental health - ABC News - July 5th, 2020
- How is mental health manifesting itself in the insurance world? - Insurance Business - June 22nd, 2020
- Native American groups address mental and behavioral health as COVID-19 wears on - Salt Lake Tribune - June 22nd, 2020
- Will digital mental health solutions thrive after Covid-19? - Medical Device Network - June 22nd, 2020
- ATAI dives into digital therapeutics to boost mental health care - FierceBiotech - June 22nd, 2020
- While Some Experts Brace For Tsunami Of Mental Health Issues, Others Predict Crisis Will Be Short-Lived - Kaiser Health News - June 22nd, 2020
- An inside look at Stanford's one-of-a-kind course on mental health innovation, where students mingle with industry experts and develop business plans... - June 22nd, 2020
- Defund police? Some cities have already started, investing in mental health instead - USA TODAY - June 22nd, 2020
- Discussion: You Don't Have To Go Far To Improve Mental Health - WCCO | CBS Minnesota - June 22nd, 2020
- Post-traumatic growth will happen in some after Covid-19 ends - STAT - STAT - June 22nd, 2020
- UPDATE: Police reopen east Bloomington area after addressing 'mental health crisis situation' - Bloomington Pantagraph - June 22nd, 2020
- Mental Health and Sleep Behaviors Are Affected by Diabetic Neuropathic Pain - Endocrinology Advisor - June 22nd, 2020
- 'You are not alone': The pandemic is causing increased anxiety. Here's how to get help - Desert Sun - June 22nd, 2020
- Usher's New Look and Cricket Wireless to Host Virtual Youth Mental Health Summit Addressing the Effects of COVID-19, Systemic Racism and Social... - June 22nd, 2020
- Mental Health Court receives funding for second year - The Owensboro Times - June 22nd, 2020
- Mental health conditions are not a normal part of aging: Dr. Brad Lucas - cleveland.com - June 22nd, 2020
- 'A culmination of crises': America is in turmoil, and a mental health crisis looms next - USA TODAY - June 22nd, 2020
- Covid-19 affects BAME youth mental health more than white peers study - The Guardian - June 22nd, 2020
- UW study looks at the long-term mental health toll of lockdowns - MyNorthwest.com - June 22nd, 2020
- The mental health victims of the pandemic the role of intervention - National Health Executive - June 22nd, 2020
- FCF|REACT Capacity Building on Adult and Child Mental Health - ReliefWeb - June 22nd, 2020
- Three Corners Health hopes to bridge the gap through online mental health forum - Williams Lake Tribune - June 22nd, 2020
- Larimer County, Fort Collins spar over location of behavioral health facility - Coloradoan - June 22nd, 2020
- Pandemic takes a toll on mental health of US residents, new national survey shows - News@Northeastern - June 22nd, 2020
- In the name of #MentalHealth - Mumbai Mirror - June 22nd, 2020
- Uthappa bares it all to raise awareness on mental health and suicide prevention - The New Indian Express - June 22nd, 2020
- Woman Behind Bars With Severe Mental Illness Gets Moved From County Jail - levittownnow.com - June 22nd, 2020
- As activists call to defund the police, mental-health advocates say the time is now to rethink public safety - MarketWatch - June 22nd, 2020
- WRITE TEAM: COVID-19 and mental health/addiction impact - MyWebTimes.com - May 26th, 2020
- Food Service Workers Are on the Brink of a Mental Health Crisis. These Efforts are Helping. - Civil Eats - May 26th, 2020
- 'We are all going through this:' Albany County mental health hotline helping hundreds - Albany Times Union - May 26th, 2020
- Here2Help Mental Health Coalition Library Forum: How to Recognize and Support People in Emotional Distress - TAPinto.net - May 26th, 2020
- VIDEO: YouTuber shows what it's like to have anxiety and panic attacks - Insider - INSIDER - May 26th, 2020
- Mental health and social isolation: how do have an active participation in self-care? - The European Sting - May 26th, 2020
- Cahill calls for mental health unit to be restored, expanded in Kingston - The Daily Freeman - May 26th, 2020
- Copper Ball virtual auction to benefit northern Arizona behavioral health - Arizona Daily Sun - May 26th, 2020
- Online therapy having its moment, bringing insights on how to expand mental health services going forward - The Conversation US - May 26th, 2020
- 'Like an earthquake with many aftershocks,' Coping with mental health and substance abuse issues during pandemic - Monadnock Ledger Transcript - May 26th, 2020
- Mental health apps draw wave of new users as experts call for more oversight - CNBC - May 26th, 2020
- Free Therapy and Mental Health Services You Can Access During the Coronavirus Outbreak - MSN Money - May 26th, 2020
- Mental health: How to care for yourself during the pandemic - CNN - May 26th, 2020
- Covid 19: This form of yoga can improve mental health, suggests study - The Indian Express - May 26th, 2020
- We Need to Take Action to Address the Mental Health Crisis in This Pandemic - TIME - May 26th, 2020
- Katie Lou Samuelson on mental health journey -- 'I realized I needed to ask for help' - ESPN - May 26th, 2020
- 3 signs that your coworker may be struggling with mental health issues - Fast Company - May 26th, 2020
- Singapore-based Intellect wants to lower barriers to mental health support in Asia - TechCrunch - May 16th, 2020
- Take care of your mind: mental health at JMU - The Breeze - May 16th, 2020
- The government will spend $48 million to safeguard mental health. Extending JobKeeper would safeguard it even more - The Conversation AU - May 16th, 2020
- Mental health expert panel discusses how to best deal with differing opinions on COVID-19 - WSAW - May 16th, 2020
- Greater Olean Area Mental Health Professionals Talk About How They Cope With the Pandemic - TAPinto.net - May 16th, 2020
- Letter to the Editor | Mental health requires more attention - Daily Illini - May 16th, 2020
- Mental health therapist concerned about telehealth reimbursements after emergency proclamation ends - KCRG - May 16th, 2020
- Coping Through COVID: The Importance of Mental Health - Patch.com - May 16th, 2020
- Suicide Prevention Aims To Get Ahead Of Pandemic's Added Pressures : Shots - Health News - NPR - May 16th, 2020
- Virtual mental health help for nurses at the front line of COVID-19 pandemic - Wink News - May 16th, 2020
- Experts worry about effects of coronavirus pandemic on those with mental health issues - CBS News - May 16th, 2020
- In China, covid-19 has focused attention on mental health - The Economist - May 16th, 2020
- Deaths and hunger strikes point to mental health crisis on stranded cruise ships - The Guardian - May 16th, 2020
- Im a survival psychologist, and this how weeks of social isolation is affecting your mental health - Well+Good - May 16th, 2020
- No Stigma Nevada: Its the worst time to skimp on mental-health resources - Elko Daily Free Press - May 12th, 2020
- Texas mental health counselors see influx of patients during coronavirus - The Texas Tribune - May 12th, 2020
- COVID-19 and your mental health | Health - Payson Roundup - May 12th, 2020
- Mental health in the workplace: The final frontier - Daily Herald - May 12th, 2020