Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Mental health has been a significant issue for people around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the stressors associated with this pandemic, some people have struggled to cope with their anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Although there have been a number of studies that have shown a rise in self-reported mental health problems, these are often difficult to interpret due to methodological and sample heterogeneity. Therefore, a more reliable way to evaluate the mental health impact of pandemics is through well-powered and controlled prospective studies with standardized instruments.
Stress is a physical reaction that your body has when it faces a challenge or threat. It causes your muscles to tighten and your heart to race. It also releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that help you to cope with the situation.
But chronic stress can have harmful effects, too. It can lead to health conditions such as high blood pressure, sleep issues and mental health disorders.
If you feel stressed a lot, you should seek help from a doctor or therapist. They can offer advice and provide you with coping strategies that may help you to deal with the stress more effectively.
But even ambient stress, such as pandemic news and the ongoing fear of a potential recurrence of the virus, can have negative impacts on your health. It’s important to recognise this and get it under control, says physiotherapist Kate Ferguson.
Depression is a common mental disorder that affects a wide range of people. It can be a difficult disorder to treat, but many people find relief with therapy and medications.
Depressive symptoms can make it hard to function, and can lead to a lack of interest in activities that used to bring you joy. They can also cause problems with sleep and appetite, which can affect your energy and performance.
During the pandemic, many people reported feeling depressed, anxious or stressed. These symptoms can also lead to self-harm and suicide.
Several factors may contribute to the risk of depression, including brain structure, medical conditions, pain and family history. Women are more likely to develop depression than men. Older people and people with a history of substance abuse are at higher risk, too. Those who experience trauma are at even greater risk. Younger people are especially at risk because they need social interactions more than older adults.
People often feel anxiety or fear in the face of a new threat or situation. This is natural and has been part of human life for thousands of years.
However, anxiety can be especially high during a pandemic because the threat is not known or understood by many. It can cause the fight-or-flight response to kick in, which leads people to try and do something about it.
For those who already have a history of anxiety, this can be particularly stressful. Those with a weakened immune system or other health issues, as well as their loved ones, may also experience heightened anxiety.
Scientists have recently identified a syndrome they call COVID-19 anxiety syndrome, which appears to be associated with the fear of contracting SARS-CoV-2 and uncertainty during the pandemic. Its main symptoms are avoidance, compulsive symptom-checking, and worrying, as well as threat monitoring (combined). Researchers believe that those with a higher neuroticism and extroversion, as well as conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness, are more likely to develop this syndrome.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, killing about 1 in 100 people each year. It can be caused by a number of factors, including hopelessness, stress, or an untreated mental health condition.
Suicidal ideation, or thinking about suicide, can occur in anyone at any time, but it is more common among women than men. It is also more likely to happen in people with mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Research on suicide during pandemics is limited, but it does suggest that certain individuals are at higher risk of suicide after an outbreak than before. This could include people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, have experienced a recent loss of a loved one, or are experiencing economic distress.
Studies have also found that exposure to suicide in the media or from friends and family can increase risk of suicide attempts. This phenomenon is called suicide contagion.