Hi there my beautiful lovelies! Hope you guys are doing well and staying safe. Have you been feeling down the past year? You are now alone. COVID has made people feeling down. Today I will talk to you about the mental health impact of the pandemic.
The Pandemic and Feeling Down
A year of staying home and Zooming in, teleworking, economic and social upheaval, and steady scientific progress has not been easy. Looking back to last March, we knew this would be difficult. However, what we didn’t know was how difficult. And we certainly didn’t know that the challenge of the pandemic would last this long. For many of us, this challenge has been overwhelming, affecting our mental health.
What Does Research Tell Us?
What research tell us is that in the immediate wake of a traumatic experience or event, large numbers of affected people report distress, including new or worsening symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Most of these people will recover though that recovery can take some time. However, a fraction of the people will develop a more prolonged symptom, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, and will need intervention. So, was that the case during the COVID-19 pandemic? A CDC survey from last year showed that 31% of respondents reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, 13% reported having started or increased substance use, 26% reported stress-related symptoms, and 11% reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days. These numbers are nearly double the rates expected before the pandemic.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH, the pandemic affected minority communities more. Per NIMH, “the most vulnerable among us are also feeling the mental health effects most intensely. Job loss, housing instability, food insecurity, and other risk factors for poor outcomes have disproportionately hit minority communities. And while overall suicide rates may have remained steady, data from states such as Maryland and Connecticut suggest that, early in the pandemic, the number of African Americans dying by suicide increased.” Data showed that deaths due to opioid overdose rose substantially in the context of the pandemic.
CDC Survey from last year found that many adults are reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. Similarly, a Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll from last year found that many adults are reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. Additionally, Non-Hispanic Black adults (48%) and Hispanic or Latino adults (46%) are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder than Non-Hispanic White adults (41%). Historically, these communities of color have faced challenges accessing mental health care.
Mental distress during the pandemic is occurring against a backdrop of high rates of mental illness and substance use that existed prior to the current crisis. Prior to the pandemic, one in ten adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder. Nearly one in five U.S. adults (47 million) reported having any mental illness.
Am I Feeling Down?
Like many, I too have been feeling blue since the pandemic. I have a generalized anxiety disorder. The pandemic did not make things easy. When the country lockdown, I worked from home for about two months. During that time, my mom became very sick. Being already immunocompromised and having underlying lung disease, she stayed home. My vibrant funny mom spent the next three to four months in bed, quiet and breathless. Watching her deteriorate unable to get the thorough care she needed broke me. I couldn’t sleep, had severe migraine attacks, and gaining weight. Yes, my friends, overwhelming stress made me gain weight because I wasn’t taking care of myself. I stopped going out completely because I did not want to bring any disease home with me. Even with the extra precaution we all took, I still was always afraid of making my mom sick.
However, within about a couple of months after the pandemic started, I was physically started going to work. My anxiety rose 10 folds after that, but when my mom got hospitalized with sepsis, it was too much for me. My mental health issues started to manifest in my health. I got sick and decided to take a month off from work to take care of myself. I am fortunate enough to have that benefit from work. My time off gave me the chance to really take care of myself. AfterI got the vaccine, my anxiety went down even further. When we found that my mom did not produce any antibody from the vaccine was hospitalized again with another infection, I went back to my previous level of anxiety. Now going to work full time while the delta variant running havoc on the country is a nightmare for me every day.
My friends! I do mindful-based meditation, I paint but I still feel down. It’s better than before, but it will not go down significantly until the pandemic goes away. I do sleep every night, not much, but still better than before.
My dear beautiful lovelies! Hope you find this post helpful. I would love to know how the pandemic affected you mentally. I would love to hear about your experience. Please comment with your feedback.
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Manna Food Center, a nonprofit organization, strives to eliminate hunger in Montgomery County through food distribution, education, and advocacy. Millions of children go to bed hungry in America every year, sadly it’s worse now! Today, 14 million children regularly miss meals — three times more than during the Great Recession and five times more than before the pandemic
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