Trying to Cope with COVID-19

The Coronavirus has put stress on many, whether it be the fear of getting sick, losing a job, or wondering how one will navigate the grocery store. This added stress can negatively affect those that suffer from mental health disorders.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says that one out of five adults in the United States suffer from mental illness a year including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and more.

Stay at home orders have resulted in many sufferers partially, or fully losing support from others such as therapists, psychiatrists and group therapy sessions with other people such as an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. However, a large majority of therapists have transitioned to having their sessions online using programs such as Facetime, Zoom or just a phone call. 

Therapy sessions are meant to be in person though, the face to face contact gives the emotional connection needed in order for therapists to help their patients to the best of their abilities. 

Brooke Lauren, a college student, said video conferencing with her therapist has been a waste of time for her as there is a lack of privacy and her therapist isn’t as expressive through a screen. 

People also lose support from another support group around them, their friends. 

While therapists are educated and trained individuals that have the proper skills necessary to assist their patients, friends are there to listen to problems that arise suddenly, and are able to help keep your mind off things. Stay at home orders prevent this. 

“I feel more isolated than anything,” Lauren said.

Symptoms of mental illness such as depression and anxiety are expected to increase as a result of COVID-19. Many Americans have not faced an outbreak to the extent of what is currently ongoing. The CDC states pandemic induced stress will inflict individuals with fear, changes in sleep patterns, and worsen mental health conditions. 

Drawing depicting stress and anxiety by Mike Kline. Image credit to Mike Kline (under CC BY 2.0, no changes have been made.)
Drawing depicting stress and anxiety by Mike Kline. Image credit to Mike Kline (under CC BY 2.0, no changes have been made.)

The CDC also said everyone reacts differently. They recommend Americans isolated in their homes take part in healthy coping mechanisms such as eating healthy and meditating, along with staying in a routine. 

While these methods do not work for everyone, they are worth a shot as they can assist those suffering silently at home. 

Jean Connelly, who suffers from bipolar disorder, recommends riding a bike while listening to music to, “get out of myself for a while.” She then suggests rearranging or organizing things around your home and taking the time to watch movies.

 “Take care of yourself. Think about how you picture your life when this is over,” Connelly said.

Some people struggle with creating a routine and coping mechanism though. As colleges have moved the spring semester online, some students have been struggling to balance school, work and free time. Lauren said that she hasn’t been able to practice much self-care as trying to keep up with everything is “bringing her to a slump.”

As the lockdown extends in New York state to further months, more signs of depression and anxiety will be rampant. 

“You are not alone. You may feel it sometimes but that is just your disease telling you falsehoods,” Julia Annabelle-Hammond said. “Hang on and know that you are not going through this by yourself.” 

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