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


  


 




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