Monday, September 7, 2020

PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF COVID-19

 What happens to all of us when there is a pandemic that is making our families and friends sick and dying? Psychologically we do not feel in control of our lives.We feel sad, stressed,confused,anxious, scared and worried.  

Each of us,whether we admit it or not,have our own psychological vulnerability.For some it is to worry or feel anxious, for others it is to be aggressive or angry, still others somatize or become hyperviligant of their surroundings.The pandemic has the power to prey on all of us, causing an exacerbation of our symptoms. 

 There is absolutely no question that COVID-19 has had an effect on our mental health.   

A Deloitte study estimates that emergency room visits for stress and anxiety related disorders will increase 1-3% from pre-pandemic rates.Another study ,based on data from SARS, predicts 11 million Canadians will experience high levels of stress. 

The majority of COVID-19 survivors suffer at least one mental disorder, one month post treatment The Journal of Brain,Behaviour, and Immunity screened 400 adult survivors, 55% had a clinical score for

 at least one mental disorder: 

Anxiety-42%

 Insomnia-40% 

Depression-31%

 PTSD-28% 

Obsessive compulsive symptoms-20%

 COVId-19 has now become a long,long haul. There is no quick fix.We 

all  have to learn to cope better.Pandemic exhaustion is catching up to all of us.We are tired,cranky,and want to resume our normal activities.Common feelings include:

 - a sense of being socially excluded

 -lose of belonging to a community 

-worry about our grandchildren going back to school

- fear of getting sick or making others sick

 -fear of being apart from loved ones

 -helplessness,boredom,loneliness,and depression 

HOW TO COPE WITH CO-VID 19

 CO-VID19  is showing no signs of abating.Indeed ,many of us are worried about a second wave this fall.The following remarks about coping are meant for those of you who are experiencing a mild to moderate degree of worry ,anxiety,isolation or feelings of lack of control. 

For those of you whose symptoms are more severe,I have listed local resources at the end of the article and urge you to contact your family Doctor or other health professional.

 All of us have a certain degree of stress in our daily lives.The pandemic has served to magnify those concerns. 

1) Anxiety

 Anxiety is an early warning to the body that we are under threat.Certainty CO-VID19 qualifies as  a threat to all of us..Typically people respond in a flight or fight manner.However, if we attempt to reflect, it is possible to gain a better understanding of the real issues that are concerning us.Yoga,mediation, breathing exercise, and physical  exercise are all good ways to cope with anxiety.

 2)Connect,connect,connect 

 Make social connections a priority.It is essential to stay in touch with friends,family and neighbours. Use the phone,text,Email, Zoom or Face Time. People need to hear your voice and know you are OK 

3)Practice Self-compassion

 Care for others but also be gentle and care for yourself. 

Activities help build self-care.The key is develop activities that  you enjoy and our passionate about.Incorporate them into your daily or weekly routine. 

Write in a journal,volunteer for a meaningful cause,make a gratitude list,meditate or visualize,take a nap, have a nice meal,listen to music,,take up  a  new hobby,write a blog,read a book,go for a drive,exercise,practice good nutrition,turn off electronic devices,dance,garden,get creative :draw,paint,write or cook a new meal, 

 4)Stay Active 

Rejoin AJA,take a course or exercise.Keeping your body fit and your mind active is great for your mental health. 

 5)Relaxation,yoga,mediation and deep breathing are all wonderful ways of reducing stress.

 6)Establish  a new structure or routine.

 7)Get a good night sleep that recharges the body and allows you to start the day with 100% energy 

8) Reduce intake of news.

 Limit coverage of the news to 1or2 brief exposure to a credible source.Stop watching the news at night. 


9) The pandemic is an opportunity to develop our inner resources,take stock of our lives,change our priorities so that we spend our lives in a more rewarding and  meaningful way."What can I change in my life to have a more interesting and meaningful experience?"  


 Based on Israel studies of how people cope with trauma, Professor Lahad,founder and president of Community,Stress Prevention Centre suggests the following coping strategies.

 A) We need to realize that this too shall pass.

 B)Go with the emotional ups and downs.

 C)Establish a new routine.

 D)Acknowledge and celebrate your small successes and joys. 

 

REFERRAL SOURCES

 For those of you in a crisis or who are experiencing symptoms of severe anxiety ,depression,PTSD or suicidal thoughts, I would strongly recommend being seen by your family physician  or healthcare provider . If you are in an extreme emergency or suicide risk go immediately to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital.  

LOCAL RESOURCES

 1) Your family physician

 2)The Ottawa Academy of Psychology 613-235-2529

 3)Ottawa Distress Centre-613-238-3311 

4)Mental Health Crisis Line-613-722-6914

 5)Ottawa Public Health- 613-580-6744 

^6) 911 for emergency or suicide risk

 Be Safe. 

 David


  


 




Sunday, April 19, 2020

DEFENSIVE WALKING --- SOCIAL DISTANCING

April/2020 has brought to the world the pandemic COVID-19.In Canada, as the incidents and deaths due to COVID-19 soars,the governments,(both federal and provincial), have enacted emergency legislation to slow down the spread of the disease. The purpose of this legislation is to prevent the health care system collapsing.
 One of these measures is social distancing.keeping at least 2 meters(6 feet), away from others.Recently our local counselor,had the foresight  to make us safer by closing down one of the local roads to vehicle traffic.
 Despite these best intentions, social distancing is a foreign concept to most individuals, who seek and need others.Thus I find myself walking on a local street , constantly on the lookout for others who either through ignorance or rebelliousness breach my safety zone of 6 feet.
 I zigzag down the street, much like a drunken sailor to avoid the bikers,walkers and runners who neglect to watch for others in their attempt to maintain their exercise routine.I am tempted to carry a 6 foot walking pole on other side of my body to protect myself. I saw on YouTube one creative individual who wore a 6 foot hula hoop attached to his body.
Yesterday while walking, I encountered a mother and her 2 teenage daughters walking down the middle of the road showing total negligence of social distancing.When I politely ask them to move over, the look I got was unmistakably hostile.A few days earlier I experienced the total opposite reaction.A young mother with her 2 preschool children, upon seeing me approach them,waited at a safe distance as I crossed the street
 Survey data indicates 70% of Canadians are practicing social distancing.This is not good enough.If you are not worried about getting COVID-19 yourself please think of your elderly grandparents and others with compromised immune systems who are dying from this disease
 We all need to do better to help our vulnerable neighbours and to listen and obey the rules issued by our public health officials.This is our generation's  WORLD WAR 111, and how we respond will determine the world we leave our children and our children's children.
As a practicing clinical psychologist if you need help coping don't hesitate to reach out to those of us in the mental health field.I can be reached at 613-228-9394.
 Be well, be safe and together we can get through these difficult times.

Monday, March 30, 2020

TRAVELS WITH DR DAVID



I greet you from New Zealand,a population of 5 million people.nicknamed Kiwis,after the elusive ,nocturnal,flightless bird.Kiwis have a  popular saying"Hatches,Matches and Dispatches."Births,weddings and death are the important events of one's life. Kiwis keep it simple and have a fundamental sense of what is right and what is important.
New Zealand,consists of 2 main islands created from volcanic eruptions many years ago,with only one active volcano,located on White Island,some 200 km from Auckland. White Island,the site of a recent eruption, in which 39 people were killed,is a source of stress for many Kiwis.I read  an account in a local paper that many nurses on duty that day have not returned to work.As our ship circumvented the island we all felt the somber mood of the tragedy.
 Geo physically, New Zealand is divided by 2 dramatically different islands.The South,more isolated,is blessed with the natural beauty of the fiords and the tree lined mountain range  reaching the sea.Home to seals,dolphins penguins and many birds including the 10 meter span albatross, the South Island is an out door paradise.The people are proud,hardy,adaptable and have a strong sense of community.
We visited one such community. Oban,Stewart Island, at the mosy southern tip of the island, where 400 hardy souls are totally isolated from the mainland.Despite their isolation,they have managed to develop a thriving fishing and tourist industry.During our stay we visited a local community center built and maintained by volunteers The building had all the amenities of a modern recreation center.
Similarly, visiting other Southern Island communities,we found all of them had a sense of community,pride in their natural heritage, and respect for the land.Climate and environmental issues are the number one concern for Kiwis.Indeed,fully 86% of New Zealand's resources are renewable. A record we should all emulate.
Our first stop on the Northern Island was Wellington,the capital of New Zealand.We visited the
 impressive legislative building,nicknamed the "Beehive"for it's physical resemblance to a bee hive.New Zealand is governed by a left leaning coalition led by an impressive 38 year old single mother Jacinthe Rearden. She is highly admired for her compassion and diplomacy. Inclusivity is a theme practiced by the government.One example is the respect given the Maori aboriginals by the government This theme of inclusivity is also practiced by the people of New Zealand. On Sunday mornings the Catholic Church holds their traditional services,on Sunday afternoon, the church rents the hall to Muslims, who hold their traditional services.
The North Island is home to many island and beaches.Auckland,with a population of 11/2 million people is known as the "City of Sails" with 1/3 of it's citizens owning a boat.Auckland city extends over a narrow isthmus joining the Pacific ocean and the Tasmanian.sea.Auckland has the world 's largest Polynesian population. The city  with it's dozens of islands is a magnet for boaters,fishing enthusiasts and hikers.
I learned why "The All Blacks",New Zealand's famous rugby team has as it's symbol the silver fern plant.Legion has it,the Maori were tracking through the woods and turned the leaf over to it's illumines underside which allowed the warriors to track at night.After the last warrior passed he turned the leaf over and they could not be followed.
 A personal experience I had in Napier, a coastal town on the Northern Island,had a major impact on me in New Zealand.While in port for the day, I left my I pad, containing 4000 pictures I had taken, at a coffee shop.After returning to the ship I realized my mistake.I tried unsuccessfully to retrieve my I pad by contacting the front office of the ship to no avail.Fortunately the next day I made direct contact with the ship's agent in Napier. Fortunately he had been found my I-pad and couriered it to me at our next stop at my hotel in Auckland. I am very grateful to him and to the people of Napier for their compassion ,integrity and decency.

 IMPRESSIONS OF THE PEOPLE OF NEW ZEALAND

The people of New Zealand are uniformly kind,warm,considerate,laid back and proud of their land.They have a respect fior their environment that is much to admire.In all of my world travels I have never seen cities that were as clean and well maintained.Certainly the highlight of the trip was the reception we received from the people of New Zealand.
 Recently in the world of psychology I live in  I've begun to classify people as either"They get it", or"they don't get it".".Kiwis get it.They intuitively know what is important,family,health,education and community.Moreover it is a society of inclusiveness where the government actively provides a strong social safety net for all it's citizens.
Simply stated" they get it".If I were a young man I would get me to New Zealand,the land of opportunity.

TRAVELS WITH DR DAVID

Good-day mates from down under in the beautiful,warm and friendly Australia.After 3 weeks travel we have just boarded our ship(TheMaasdam,Holland America) in Sydney and our steaming toward Tasmania our last stop in Australia,before we cross the treacherous Tasmanian sea to the South Island of NewZealand.
 While in Australia we were treated to the most pristine sand beaches,cities that sparkle, the exotic wild life including the endangered koala, the kangaroo, and the mystical Tasmanian  devil.However it is to the people of Australia who make you feel so welcome.Warm,gracious and your perfect host they take great pride in their country.
While travelling to Bondi Beach in Sydney via public transportation,we meet an elderly man who insisted he take us to our destination.I tell ever Aussie that we are their Canadian cousins.On one occasion while driving(on the left side of the road),on the Great Ocean Rode, we double parked blocking 3 cars. After I had taken my picture,returning to the car, I was confronted by one of the owners of the  car I had blocked in.Instead of scolding me, he proceeded to act a a tour guide,telling us what to see on the road.
Where ever we went in Australia we were met by people only too happy to help.After asking directions and thanking them, the typical response was " no trouble, no drama".

 Impressions Of Australia

 A beautiful,young,vibrate country which offers a warm inviting climate.The country although not overtly friendly to immigrates, is a rich,fertile land where there are many opportunities to succeed
 Just as Sydney is the business capital,Melbourne is ,host too many universities as well as many cultural events.A Population of 24 million,with more than half in 3 cities, there are many opportunities in the outback for those with pioneering spirits.
Notwithstanding it's beauty and politics,what resonates with me, is the warmth,laid back attitude of the people.