How COVID-19 is Impacting Our Mental Health

In the middle of March, people across the country had their lives disrupted by a seemingly unknown virus. Most of the country was forced to quarantine in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, separating people from their colleagues, friends and family.

As the country begins to reemerge from the period of quarantine, mental health professionals across the country are starting to see the effects of this mandated isolation period with increased incidences of anxiety, clinical depression and related conditions. Here’s what you need to know moving forward.

Stress Like Never Before

One of the largest causes of mental health concerns stemming from COVID-19 are due to the sheer levels of stress that people have had to face.

“During quarantine, many people were exposed to stressors that they had never experienced before,” said David Moore, R.N., M.S.N., BC, executive director of Mental Health Services at Inspira Health. “The fear of having family members fall ill, paired with trying to lower your own risk of infection and feelings of loneliness created the perfect storm for many people.”

These heightened levels of stress aren’t likely to subside immediately after quarantines are lifted, Moore explained. Financial insecurity may continue for those who aren’t recalled to their jobs, leading to worries about health insurance coverage and being able to put food on the table for their families.

How Can We Curb Quarantine’s Negative Effects?

When trying to slow the spread of an infectious disease, quarantine can be effective. But in the long run, studies suggest that the lasting psychological effects can be observed months, or even years, later.

“To lessen the negative effects, public health officials and doctors are consistently weighing their options,” said Moore. “This is one of the reasons that you’re starting to see quarantines lifted across the country, because it's been shown that longer quarantine periods last, the more likely they are to cause harmful psychological effects.”

The best thing to do for preparing for post-quarantine life is to keep open lines of communication between friends, family and coworkers. Doing this frequently can help to take the feelings of loneliness out of the equation, allowing people to focus on returning to their normal routines as soon as they can.

As we come out of quarantine, monitor your loved ones for signs of an emerging mental health condition. Common signs of clinical depression that may onset gradually include trouble concentrating, remembering details, fatigue, and feelings of guilt and worthlessness.

What if We Have To Quarantine Again?

Should the country have to move back to a quarantine state in an effort to stop a second wave of infections, we’ll know what to expect this go around.

“Having lived through a quarantine like this once puts us at a great advantage should we need to do it again,” said Moore. “Now, we know what to expect, and can better prepare ourselves for it across the board.”

Inspira Mental Health Services offers counseling to those age 5 and older. We know that our patients might need extra support at this time due to coronavirus-related stressors especially when they have underlying emotional difficulties that may be exacerbated by the need to stay-at-home or fear of COVID-19. At Inspira, we offer clients the opportunity to participate in therapy via a telehealth/virtual visit platform. For more information on current appointment availability call 1-800- INSPIRA