24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
Coronavirus Deaths in Nursing Homes Climbing AgainGet Dizzy When Standing Up? It Could Be Risk Factor for DementiaLevels of Anxiety, Addiction, Suicidal Thoughts Are Soaring in the PandemicWhat Was More Deadly for New Yorkers – COVID-19 or the 1918 Flu?Sweden's No-Lockdown Policy Didn't Achieve 'Herd Immunity'U.S. Coronavirus Death Tally Hits New High for SummerPfizer's COVID Vaccine Shows 'Robust' Results in Early TrialFrequent COVID Tests Key to College Reopening: ExpertsMany Community Outbreaks of COVID Traced to Restaurants, BarsPut the Brakes on Driving After a ConcussionStrict, Costly Measures Needed to Reopen Schools: StudyCOVID-19 Risk Up to 7 Times Higher for Young VapersAnother COVID Hazard: False InformationHospitals Full, Doctors Treated Her Severe COVID-19 at HomeFDA Approves First Oral Drug for Spinal Muscular AtrophyCOVID-19 Fears Stop Americans From Seeking Help for Heart EmergenciesAHA News: What Do Heart Patients Need to Know About COVID-19 Now?Have Diabetes? Don't Lose Sight of Danger to Your EyesBlood Test Might Spot Most Dangerous COVID-19 CasesAs Schools Reopen, Report Shows 97,000 U.S. Kids Infected With COVID in Late JulyWhat Parents Need to Know About Teens and ConcussionsBaby's Meningitis Case Highlights Growing Danger of Antibiotic ResistanceAs in Adults, Minority Kids Hit Hardest by COVID-19Simple Test Shows Which Face Masks Are BestBeware of Hand Sanitizers Containing MethanolWhat Athletes Should Know About COVID-19, Heart Damage and Working OutCOVID-19 Causing More Stress in America Than Other Nations: SurveyWill Your Kid Play School Sports This Fall? Here's Some Guidance on Doing It SafelyScientists Call for Broader Use of Faster COVID TestsTwo Common Nutrients Might Keep Vertigo at BayPeople Are Dying, Going Blind After Drinking Hand Sanitizer, CDC WarnsMore Social Media Use, More Fake COVID NewsSkip the 'Maskne,' Not the MaskObesity Ups Odds for Severe COVID-19, But Age MattersSeven States Join Pact to Speed Coronavirus TestingStudy Casts Doubt on Value of Cholesterol DrugsCOVID-19 Fears Had Sick, Injured Americans Avoiding ERsCancer Diagnoses Plunge as Americans Avoid Screening During PandemicMysterious Paralyzing Illness in Kids Is Set to Return, CDC WarnsMany Older Americans Staying Strong in the PandemicCoronavirus Cases Now Climbing in the MidwestCould the First Drug That Slows Arthritis Be Here?Schools Can Reopen Safely If Precautions in Place, Australian Study ShowsFace Masks, Yes, But Don't Forget Hand-Washing TooEven With PPE, Risk of COVID-19 Still High for Frontline WorkersCoronavirus Pandemic Becoming Far More Widespread, Birx SaysGuard Against Lyme Disease This SummerKids 'Efficient' Transmitters as COVID-19 Raced Through a Georgia Summer CampCollege Students Will Need COVID Tests Every 2-3 Days for Campus Safety: StudyAHA News: Sustained High Blood Pressure May Damage Brain Vessels
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Diabetes

Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Leave a Mental Health Crisis in Its Wake?

HealthDay News
by By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jul 6th 2020

new article illustration

MONDAY, July 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Stressed from home-schooling your kids? Lonely from lockdown? Worried about a sick loved one isolated in a nursing home? Worried you might lose your job?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone's mental health in ways small and large, and experts are concerned that for many, today's anxiety will become a tidal wave of mental health problems in the years ahead.

The pandemic is adding to what already was an underrecognized mental health crisis in the United States, according to Dr. Don Mordecai, national mental health and wellness lead at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif.

Rates of anxiety and depression have steadily risen for years, as have deaths of despair related to suicide and drug overdose, he said during a HD Live! interview.

"All those things have been going up for decades, really, and now you bring the pandemic in," Mordecai said. "It's not like we were in good shape in terms of our mental health and now it's getting worse. It's more like we were not in good shape, and then you bring in another big stressor."

Clinical psychologist Jelena Kecmanovic also is concerned about the toll of the anxiety-provoking changes to everyday life that people are enduring.

"Anxiety is exhausting and terrifying," said Kecmanovic, director of the Arlington/DC Behavior Therapy Institute in Arlington, Va. "If it is happening long enough, you're going to get depressed about it. You're going to get hopeless and maybe even suicidal."

She expects some long-lasting emotional scars.

"This is going to go on long enough and it's going to be traumatic enough for enough people that it's not realistic to expect we'll spring back to normal," Kecmanovic said.

America's pandemic-related mental health crisis hasn't rolled out as you might think, she said. There wasn't much of an initial uptick in people seeking help even as the lockdown altered everyday life in profound ways.

"After these couple of first months, when reopening started, that's when we started really seeing people's mental health worsen quite a bit," she said.

What changed?

"What's dawning on us is the realization that we're in this for the long haul," Kecmanovic said. "The uncertainty is really hitting people, that this is going to be a year or a year and a half living with this ever-changing normal. The new normal is changing every day, every week."

Surveys have shown that people are concerned about the pandemic's effect on their mental health, and symptoms of anxiety and depression are on the rise, Mordecai said.

But "that's different from a full-blown mental health disorder," he noted. "I think it remains to be seen how it translates long term."

The folks most at risk for long-term problems are those most directly impacted by COVID-19, Mordecai and Kecmanovic said. These include front-line health care workers, people who have been infected, and people who have lost loved ones.

"There's going to be a … tremendous amount of grief that's not being processed," Kecmanovic said, adding that it's impossible to paper over it. "It's going to catch up with you eventually."

All this sounds dire, but both experts predict most people will bounce back.

"I am hoping that essential human resilience will prevail -- people might not be able to snap their fingers and be back to normal, but they will generally be fine," Kecmanovic said.

Mordecai said past experience offers reason for hope.

"When we look at studies of past natural disasters and pandemics, most people do OK, which I think gives me some reason for optimism," he said. "But there will be some people who have long-term effects. It's people who've been profoundly affected by the pandemic."

People worried about their own mental state should double down on efforts to stay healthy and happy, Mordecai said.

"The greatest risk is that when people get socially isolated, they drop their routines around maintaining their mental health and their physical health -- that's really a set up," he said.

A daily workout can do much to lower your stress. People should also consider meditation or yoga as a means of reducing stress, as well as limiting their news intake, Mordecai added.

Don't dwell on the news, he advised.

"It's important to stay up to date, but that doesn't require hours and hours a day," Mordecai said. "If the TV's on in the background, maybe turn it off, because it's a constant message that's anxiety-provoking."

It's also important to acknowledge how you're feeling, and that your feelings are valid, Kecmanovic said. "These are crazy times. These are unprecedented times. No wonder I'm feeling anxious, and it's OK," she said.

Some potential bright spots could come out of the pandemic, too. Some people might emerge with a sense of pride in enduring the crisis, she said.

"It can be realizing … I'm stronger than I thought I would be," Kecmanovic said. "I never thought of myself as a strong and hearty person, but what I've lived through for the last year and a half, it's amazing I was able to go through this."

The experts also hope that what people have endured will help them empathize with those who struggle with their mental health.

"One of the silver linings here may be that so many of us have had to deal with symptoms of anxiety and concerns about isolation," Mordecai said. "Those are things that people with mental health conditions have known for a long time. If the rest of us essentially get a taste of it, does that allow us all to talk more openly about it? I hope so."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about coping with stress during COVID-19.