Many struggle with pandemic-caused mental health issues: Kaiser


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A family hike might be helpful to ease issues: Kaiser Permanente
A family hike might be helpful to ease issues: Kaiser Permanente

Natural disasters, distance learning, loss of jobs and social isolation are continuing to create tremendous fear and anxiety for people already concerned about the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 40% of U.S. adults reported having some type of mental-health issue related to the pandemic, according to the latest CDC data released in June.

“All of our routines have been obliterated,” said Yener Balan, MD,Vice President, Behavioral Health and Specialty Services for Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “We used to get up every day, get dressed, go to work, now that’s not happening. Some may not see a way forward. The emotional turmoil leads to anxiety.”

October is World Mental Health month, and Kaiser Permanente experts say it’s important to seek treatment if you are dealing with mental health issues including depression and anxiety.

Depression is an illness that causes you to feel sad, lose interest in activities that you’ve always enjoyed, withdraw from others, and have little energy. It’s different from normal feelings of sadness, grief, or low energy. Depression can also cause people to feel hopeless about the future and even think about suicide.

“You’re really the best person who knows yourself,” Balan said. “If you’re seeing you’re different now than you were before the pandemic, then perhaps it’s time to talk to your doctor about therapy. It can help.”

People may also be feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Working from home and dealing with children who are distance learning can be difficult to manage. Others may be feeling anxious about the unstable job market or the uncertainty concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. There are strategies to deal with it.

Balan suggests compassion and humor: “Be compassionate about yourself and those around you. Find ways to find the humor in things. And don’t make big decisions now.”

Here are some other ways to cope:

  • Get outside. Take a walk, maybe up a hill or near water, where you can reconnect with the larger world beyond your walls.
  • Build in exercise time. Be creative with what you have around the house to modify your workout; use online tools to exercise with others whenever possible.
  • Get enough sleep. A normal sleep schedule is essential to maintaining a healthy mind, body, and spirit.
  • Stay connected. Be sure to make time each day to communicate via phone or video with the important people in your life.
  • Limit alcohol use. Alcohol is a depressant and too much can make your mood worse. Eat a healthy diet. Too much sugary and fatty foods can leave you feeling sluggish and unmotivated.