People are anxious about the unknown and COVID-19 presents many unknowns. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and there is no better time to talk about our mental health than during a pandemic.
The isolation, stress, and exhaustion the pandemic brings is pushing some to the brink. A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered a more than 1,000 percent increase in April compared with the same time last year.
If you’re wondering if your mental health may now be compromised, here are some signs of stress and tips to help you deal with depression and anxiety:
- Fear and worry about your own health and health of your loved ones
- Having difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Changes in eating patterns
- Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
Dealing with depression:
- With event cancellations and social distancing, we still need to stay connected. Take the time to reach out to people you trust.
- Be gentle with yourself
- Self-care is important: eating healthy, exercise, hygiene
- Keep a routine even if you are at home
- Watch movies that provide some real belly laughs
- Read books that are funny or provide a feel-good message
Things I can do to help myself with anxiety:
- While it is important to know the facts about COVID-19, it helps to take breaks from watching, reading, or being on social media and repeatedly hearing about the coronavirus pandemic.
- Eat healthy, exercise
- Meditate, breathing exercises
- Journal your feelings
- Stay connected to others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and feelings.
- If you or someone you know needs help with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a web page dedicated to Stress and Coping with information for parents, responders, and people who have been released from quarantine.
- Mental Health and COVID-19 – Information and Resources (Mental Health America)
Finally, remember it’s OK to not be OK. During this pandemic, reminders to stay strong, and be upbeat are everywhere. Mottos, memes, along with Twitter hashtags are devoted to preaching optimism. But for some people, the relentless focus on the bright side can go too far.
If you’re disappointed about the uncertainty and changes now part of life, it’s important to not ignore those feelings. It’s OK to feel this way and know that many other people are feeling the same.
You are not alone. In the United States:
- 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness each year
- 1 in 25 adults experience serious mental illness each year
- 1 in 6 youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
- 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34