With the spread of COVID-19, managing your physical health may seem difficult. There are many guidelines for keeping yourself safe from COVID-19 – wearing masks, social distancing, and careful washing of hands, for example. However, there are not many guidelines on how to handle your mental health.
How Does COVID-19 Affect Our Mental Health?
Social distancing, in particular, can have several detrimental effects on mental health. While its benefits in preventing the spread of COVID-19 are undeniable, we must also mitigate its harmful side effects.
Social distancing is often enacted through lockdowns, preventing movement of people, and possible disease carriers. People are encouraged to stay in their homes. While “cabin fever” is not a disease, it can create feelings of irritability or restlessness, potentially leading to more serious mental health problems.
Furthermore, in certain regions, lockdowns may be extended for an indefinite period. An indefinitely extended lockdown creates uncertainty for the future, raising the fear of the unknown. The inability to travel also raises financial security questions for people who cannot go to their workplace or work from home.
Health anxiety is also an issue, as leaving your house may eventually be inevitable. The threat of infection is always present, with increased transmission chances when forced to interact with other people that do not follow safety guidelines. The fear of risk encountered whenever you have to leave your home can take a toll on you.
Prolonged isolation has proven to cause detrimental effects on both physical and mental health. Research has shown that loneliness can increase the risk of various health issues, including but not limited to the following:
- Increased blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Weakened immune system
Older adults are particularly at risk, and these complications can even lead to death.
People are naturally social creatures – we require some level of interaction to maintain our health. Loneliness can lead to anxiety, depression, and even the weakening of your cognitive abilities. Often, the mental health issues caused by prolonged isolation can cause a patient to continue to isolate and not seek outside contact, creating a vicious self-perpetuating cycle.
When experiencing negative emotions, turning to alcohol or other substances can be tempting. An extended stay at home makes access to these substances easy, especially if you are the kind of person to store alcohol at home.
Repeated drinking can quickly become a habit, leading to alcoholism. Substance abuse often leads to a variety of health problems, including but not limited to restlessness, decreased appetite, liver damage, and even death.
Managing the Mental Health Effects of COVID-19 in New York and Connecticut
Preventing mental health issues or curbing them before they grow too dangerous are always best practices. If you think that a loved one or you may be experiencing mental health issues, Dr. Mark Stracks of Psy-Visions is ready to assist and help you through this trying time.
Most clinics require face to face interactions. However, even if you are aware of the mental health problems that you face, lockdowns may prevent you from receiving treatment. At Psy-Vision, we do things differently. We offer telepsychiatry, allowing us to treat you safely, effectively, and remotely.
Call us at (718) 887-2918 if you are in New York or (203) 405-1745 if you are in Connecticut. Our safe and confidential online form is also available for your convenience. We are looking forward to helping you cope through the difficult days.