9 Minutes

By THE BALANCE
Fact checked

Since the evolution of life, pandemics and humans have been going hand in hand with each other. Different kinds of pandemics found from time to time drastically affect people’s mental and bodily health. The recent pandemic that is COVID-19 is also miserably impacting people’s physical and psychic well-being. The severe effects of a pandemic on mental health can not be denied because of their clear visible influence on people’s lives. A pandemic develops anxious and traumatizing feelings and loss of happiness and interest from life.

The ending of this decade was with such a traumatizing pandemic COVID-19 which is equally alarmingly spreading in all generations and putting their mental health at risk of various psychiatric disorders, counting depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, mood disorders, and many more. The statistics revealed by World Health Organization (WHO) about deteriorating mental health due to pandemics, especially the current COVID-19 pandemic, have an anxiously triggering effect on human minds. 

Since its emergence, this pandemic is becoming harder and harder to be controlled. In light of statistics about the COVID-19 pandemic from the US from January 2020 to October 2021, the recorded cases were 45,107,253, and reported deaths were 730,306. These disturbing statistics are also major contributing factors to the negative effects of a pandemic on mental health.

A pandemic is not just a medical condition; it affects society and individuals and causes anxiety, stress, stigma, depression, and xenophobia. Different pandemics had spread all across the world with the mental health issues related to them. COVID is one of them. The measures to reduce coronavirus and to encourage social distancing have led to increased social isolation. 

The combination of social isolation, disruptions of daily life, and information-overloaded have increased feelings of grief, anxiety, and worry worldwide. Furthermore, the increased unemployment rates, death rates, economic hardship, suicide rates, and social deprivation are all the effects that pandemic causes on mental health.

Other Effects

Humans are complex and thus give fearful responses to the pandemic. When the pandemic started, we learned about the virus, how to wash our hands properly, and the precautionary measures that can help prevent COVID. Now, we have to learn about the mental health effects of COVID to find ways to address them.

There are seven ways that pandemic is affecting our mental health:

  • We are depressed, anxious, and traumatized
  • Domestic violence has increased
  • It’s worse for disadvantaged people
  • The effects are increased by racism
  • Loneliness
  • Effects on lifestyle, personality, and demographics
  • Effects on your job style as you can’t work properly at your home because your workplace matters

If your life seems overwhelmingly desolate and hopeless, then you are suffering from depression. It drains your energy, affects your thinking ability, and makes it hard to get through the day. It can also be caused by the stress or fear of pandemics, including COVID-19. This is a complex and distressing situation. 

Even though the position is relatively better after the COVID vaccine, some countries are still at risk, and the end seems a long way. You may be struggling financially, have lost your job, and are worried about when the economy will pick up. Living in the age of COVID-19 will have a profound impact on your mood. 

How Does Depression Worsen?

Because of the pandemic, you could be lamenting the loss of your loved ones or the lifestyle you knew before it or feeling exasperated and irritated by continued social distancing. Not being married, having a low household income, and other COVID-related stressors are the most significant reasons for COVID depression. Here are some reasons that has worsen COVID depression:

  • Loneliness and isolation fuels depression
  • A distressed relationship can be even worse than loneliness
  • Stress levels are ascending
  • Anxiety because of COVID leads to depression
  • People are moving towards unhealthy ways of treating depression

Ways To Treat Depression

In the middle of a pandemic, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by depression and anxiety. That’s why there are many ways to treat depression. Some of them are:

  • Practice mindfulness and gratefulness
  • Make a routine of your daily activities
  • Use contactless delivery
  • Seek social support
  • Find simple sources of joy
  • Express gratitude
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take a nature walk
  • Talk to a therapist

A panic attack is an instant burst of severe feelings during a pandemic that usually peaks within 10 minutes. Symptoms of panic attack due to COVID include:

  •   Increased heartbeat
  •  Shallow breathing
  •  Chest pain
  •  Trembling
  • Fear of choking
  •  Dizziness
  •  Nausea

Researchers suggest that panic attack symptoms can be very intense, including heart attack, shortness of breath, chest pressure, and sweating. People suffer panic attacks when the stress gets overflow because the brain misreads all the stress and thinks you are in danger. Your body shows fight to flight response and secretes adrenaline. 

Covid 19 Anxiety Symptoms and Treatment

The COVID-19 pandemic has made lots of people anxious. But for some people, the danger of deadly infection and the desperate changes to daily life have triggered panic attacks.

How Can We Control Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks come suddenly, means with no warnings. Senderak said, “Panic means lots of uncertainty and what we want to teach patients is that you can tolerate this uncertainty. Instead of saying ‘you will be ok, you are safe’ we say, ‘You are uncomfortable, it doesn’t feel good, and guess what? You will tolerate and get through it shortly”. If you feel like you have a panic attack, there are four ways to help you cope.

Grounding

Ground yourself into now or here. What are you noticing around about yourself? What’s the time and date? What can you touch, hear, smell, and see?

Breathe

Breathe in and count four similarly while breathing out again; count four and do it several times. It’s a type of yoga that proves helpful in many conditions. It is the best way to remove your anger and to improve your psychological health. 

Find Distractions

Open a web page and count all the “Qs” on that page. Count back from 2,000. Focus on a painting or a picture and count all the colors or shapes. In short, something to distract your brain.

Soothe Yourself

Listen to some music, do some yoga, exercise, suck on candy, smell a nice thing or something else that can make you feel happy. You should carry some good smell on a handkerchief or an object which can gain all your attention while going to any place that makes you feel anxious. It proves much beneficial in relieving panic attacks.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an inexorable but curable psychological disorder that occurs after rehabilitation from a traumatic event. In the case of COVID PTSD, the traumatic event is the terrifying surfacing of the COVID pandemic. According to data regarding stress levels in adults and adolescents during pandemic provided as a result of an American survey, 78% of adults (every 8 in 10 people) evidence that COVID epidemic contributed as a major in aggravating their stress levels. 

And every 2 of 3 adults, which counts 67% of the total population, reported that during pandemic COVID-19 elevated their stress and became a reason for PTSD. A psychiatrist at Cedars-Sinai, doctor Itai Denovitch utters that 90 percent of people confront a substantial traumatizing event at some phase in their lives. 

These emotional scars fade the beautiful colors of their life by enticing them with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD). Such a recent traumatic event is the COVID-19 pandemic that is vanishing the colors from people’s lives due to PTSD, which indicates an anomaly in sound mental health. During COVID, it is mainly brought about by stressing scenarios like:

  • Inability to enjoy old habits
  • Limited social support
  • Experiencing physically and mentally hurting situations
  • Observing another person suffering
  • Coming up against a dangerous event 
  • Job deprivation and financial losses
  • Death of near and dear ones

Symptoms Of COVID-19 PTSD

This PTSD resulted from pandemic intrudes with relationships, daily functions, and quality of life. COVID-19 PTSD symptoms may go long from months to years and can develop other psychological disorders in most people. Given below are the symptoms discussed by the majority of people; however, variations may exist:

  • Upsetting and dismaying thoughts and feelings
  • Troublesome dreams relating to different events
  • Elevated fight and flight response
  • Ventures to avoid trauma-related persuasions
  • Alternations in the thinking process
  • Avoidance and numbing trigger actions
  • Flashback to the intrusive thoughts and memories
  • The feeling of being unsafe and fearful
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Emotional numbness
  • Irritability
  • Hypervigilance
  • Trouble concentrating

Treatment Of COVID-19 PTSD

Neglecting PTSD resulting from a pandemic can result in further complications, and adverse consequences, so proper treatment should be pursued to keep the mental health damage at a minimum. The most commonly suggested treatments are psychotherapy, and medication and a combination of both can prove well based on your medical history. For improving your mood and control anger, sadness, and worry, you seek help from serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs) and antidepressants.

The pandemic has brought about weird feelings that can intensify psychological illness and many mental health problems. During this challenging period of COVID, it is normal to feel depression, stress, and anxiety, but it should be treated when this stress worsens. There are many by which we can treat our mental health issues on our own. Some of them are

Help And Support Others

Find ways by which you can help your needy relatives or other poor people. Because helping others will not only make those people happy but will also make you happy.

Make A Connection With Other

Due to social distancing, we cannot meet our family and friends but can make a video or an audio call. It is not social distancing or isolation; it’s just physical distancing. 

Look After Your Sleep

You should maintain regular sleep patterns and better sleep hygiene practices. For example, avoid any caffeine, do not watch TV or mobile before going to bed, and thus create a restful environment.

Manage Your Information And Media Intake

24-hours news and continuous social media updates will make you feel more worried because COVID-19 and its death rates in different countries are the highlights of news channels nowadays. You should watch the news but for a limited time which does not affect your mental health.

Keep Your Mind Active

Writing, reading, sudokus, doing crossword puzzles, playing games, jigsaws, or painting and drawing are the activities to re-activate your mind after hectic daily routines. Morning walks and yoga are the best options to keep your mind healthy and to remove your stress. 

Get The Facts

Collect helpful information that will help you correctly determine other people’s risk or your own of getting COVID so that you can find precautions to fight with it.

Global Mental Health Crisis In Children During The Pandemic

Restrictions on different things and week-long lockdowns during a pandemic have also severely impacted children’s mental health. Researchers found that cases of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and even self-harm have increased among children during the pandemic. They suggest that in 46 countries, more than 1300 children report increased negative thoughts and feelings due to COVID. 

Pandemic affected children’s mental health in many ways as:

Extended Lockdown

Since the pandemic started, children have lived under restrictions or lockdown for about 184 days. In rich countries, children had to spend about 402 days which have dreadfully affected their psychological health. This also affects their sleep and social interactions, thus affecting children’s good health.  

Researchers also suggest that if children get affected by mental health problems, they will also suffer their side effects in the coming years. 

Closure Of Educational Institutes

Due to COVID, educational institutions were closed. The online education system has gained much importance, leaving a harmful impact on their eyes, brains, and, most importantly, mental health. Closure of schools has declined students’ communication and interaction with their classmates, play, exercises, and other cheering activities necessary for their psychical growth.

Isolation From Parents And Other Family Members 

Many children had to separate from their COVID relatives and family members because of isolation. Going through such isolation, loss of close ones, and the fear of death had triggered feelings of anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and other mental illnesses.

A pandemic does not come alone; it comes along with various health anomalies counting depression, fear, trauma, panic attacks, PTSD, anxiety, mood disorder, and schizophrenia that exploit your physical and particularly mental health. Moreover, the discomforts of social seclusion, lowered level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter specified for mood regulation, and digestive functioning accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic also affect mental health. 

So firstly, you should try to put your efforts to explore your thoughts, take care of yourself, practice coping skills, dedicate time for mind relaxation, and seek positive brain reviving activities because this will light up your path towards a sound and disease-free mental health. Your physical wellness will automatically line up when you enjoy sound mental health because a healthy mind leads to healthy and well-organized body functions.