According to research, the anticipation of a perceived threat takes a greater toll on one’s mental health than the threat itself. It makes sense then that since the start of COVID-19 — a virus shrouded in uncertainty — the state of mental health in America and across the globe has been on the sharp decline. With everything from job stability to health to the future in question, many people’s brains are working overtime to compensate for the unknown. Add to the uncertainty the social isolation, altered daily routines and financial strain and you have the recipe for a mental health disorder.
While it’s natural to feel stressed, anxious and scared during these uncertain times, learning to cope with those feelings in a healthy way can make you, your family and your community stronger. However, before you can learn to cope, you must first identify who is at risk for mental health decline and what signs to look for.
Mental Health Issues You May Be Experiencing
Stress, anxiety and depression top the list of disorders people are experiencing during this pandemic. According to recent data, the number of Americans who report symptoms of depression is well above historical norms at 49%. Historically, that rate hovers around 37%.
Fear is also taking a toll on individuals’ mental health these days. Fear is a natural response to a perceived threat, but when fear becomes chronic, so too does the “fight or flight” response it triggers. Being on constant alert can lead to ongoing stress, anxiety, depression and, eventually, suicidality.
How It Is Affecting Young Adults vs Older Adults
The response to COVID-19 differs from age group to age group. According to the CDC, a quarter of nearly 5,500 respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 said they have contemplated suicide since March, compared to 10% of overall participants of all ages. Nearly one-third said they experienced symptoms of depression or anxiety in the past six months, while more than one-quarter experienced a stress-related or trauma disorder.
The mental health of elderly adults has also declined. Social isolation has resulted in the worsening of depression and other medical conditions for many, especially those living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Because elderly adults are in the at-risk group for complications, fear has also become an omnipresent entity in many elderly persons’ lives.
The Pandemic's Impact On Children's Mental Health
Of all age groups, research shows that the one that has experienced the greatest mental decline since the start of the pandemic is children. Disrupted routines, social isolation, virtual learning and fear have all contributed to rising rates of depression and anxiety in children and adolescents. Additionally, research shows that children internalize their parents’ emotions, meaning that in addition to their own fears and anxiety, children are also taking on those of their parents. Nearly 14% of respondents to a study said that their children’s behavioral issues have intensified since March, while 10% said they have seen a definite decline in both their own and their children’s mental health.
Managing Mental Health During a Pandemic
Mood disorders can adversely affect several aspects of your life, from your relationships to your job to your overall happiness. If left untreated, mental disorders can worsen and make it more difficult for you to come back from them. To prevent this from happening, learn self-care strategies that you can use to cope. Our 5 Pillars program details the top five, but other steps you can take are as follows:
- Get moving.
- Avoid alcohol, drugs and tobacco.
- Try to maintain a routine.
- Stay positive.
- Stay busy.
- Set priorities.
- Connect with others.
Most importantly, understand what is normal and what is not. If your mental state continues to deteriorate, reach out to a professional for help.
Additional Self-Care Coping Tips
Making self-care during these unprecedented times is of utmost importance, and not just for your own health but for the health of those you love. Go above and beyond for yourself by taking Brillia, a scientifically formulated solution designed to combat anxiety, stress and depression. Use Brillia in conjunction with other self-care tips to experience the mood boost you so deserve.