Effects of the Covid-19 Quarantine

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Effects of the Covid-19 Quarantine

The fight for mental health during social isolation!

Stress and social isolation can aggravate conditions like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or suicidality.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last three months, you’ve seen effects of the Covid 19 pandemic everywhere: shop signs encouraging social distancing, people wearing masks and gloves to the grocery store, and bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic that is now a mere trickle.

Everything from rock concerts to kindergarten has been put on an indefinite hold while healthcare workers, governments, and everyone else walk the fine line between keeping the vulnerable alive and preserving a fragile economy.

Effects of Coronavirus on Normal, Healthy People

The average healthy person that contracts the coronavirus is in for about two weeks of coughing, congestion, and high fever.

While Covid 19 is certainly painful and miserable, most young, healthy folks will sustain no lasting damage, other than to deplete their sick time. Recovery for mild cases (those that require no hospitalization) is usually about two weeks.

Since (to date) Covid 19 has only infected a small percentage of the population, the effects of the quarantine are worse than the disease.

However more than 17 million people in the U.S have lost their jobs or been furloughed as a result of stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, which have closed many businesses and reduced the demand for others.

While this has definitely preserved lives and slowed the spread of the coronavirus, the financial strain of job loss and uncertainty is taking its toll on workers in the U.S. and across the globe.

Effects of Covid 19 on those with Mental Illness

The Covid 19 virus is definitely more devastating on the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or cancer.

However, the danger posed by both the virus and the accompanying quarantine has received much less publicity. Though less publicized, is nonetheless real and dangerous.

The coronavirus outbreak provides a smorgasbord of worries for those with anxiety and OCD.

Stress and social isolation can aggravate conditions like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or suicidality.

Even those without symptoms of mental health problems under normal circumstances can find themselves anxious, depressed, or obsessed with preventing infection.

If your loved one struggles with any of these mental health issues, call him or her frequently to check in. Help him or her find factual information and reasonable ways to prevent infection.

Support friends with mental illness in ways like running errands or encouraging them to get fresh air and sunshine.

The Effect of Covid 19 on Healthcare Workers

Perhaps no sector of the population has felt the impact of the virus as keenly as those in the healthcare field. On the front lines of the battle to stem the tide of Covid 19, doctors, nurses, EMTs, and others face repeated exposure to the virus in order to help the severely ill.

In a recent study in Singapore, healthcare workers tending to patients with Covid 19 showed a prevalence of depression, stress, anxiety, and (PTSD).

The trauma for nurses and doctors has been exacerbated by lack of life-saving ventilators, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) such as medical-grade masks, gowns, and face shields.

In the United States, civilians have begun sewing cloth masks and 3D printing face shields to try and meet the escalating need for PPE. Treating the severely ill without sufficient PPE poses additional risk to healthcare workers, and many have isolated themselves from their families completely to prevent them from being exposed to the coronavirus.

How to Cope with Mental Health Challenges During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Whether you are an essential worker in healthcare, recently laid off, or just stuck at home waiting out the quarantine orders, you may be suffering from stress, anxiety, or situational depression from the upheaval in everyday life.

This is distressing and overwhelming, but you are not alone.

While nothing can make the virus and its accompanying stressors disappear, try a few of these strategies to reduce stress and triggering events in order to preserve your mental health:

  1. Limit your intake of information. Constantly checking for coronavirus updates on news and social media outlets will only fuel your fears. Choose one or two credible media sources and check only once or twice daily. Ruminating on the pandemic will not help your mental state.
  2. Exercise. Even if you are stuck inside, do something to move your body. Exercise releases endorphins (chemicals in your brain that stimulate happy feelings). Do jumping jacks, stretch, do push-ups, or try a workout video from YouTube.
  3. Talk to a therapist. Many therapists will do remote telehealth visits via Zoom, Skype, or other remote calling technology, and many insurance plans will cover these visits. If you don’t have a therapist, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness hotline at 1-800-950-6264.
  4. Avoid alcohol and drugs. Both are hazardous to your mental health and will only exacerbate your symptoms. Ask a partner or friend to help you be accountable if this is a struggle for you.
  5. Get a good night’s sleep. Beginning the day well-rested is much more likely to make problems and fears seem manageable. Insufficient sleep is a major contributor to depressive and anxious symptoms. To the extent possible, go to bed at the same time each night and get adequate rest.

Filling the Time During Coronavirus Quarantine with Creativity

For many people, stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders have left us with a lot of time to fill. Another great coping mechanism to combat fear, uncertainty, and boredom is to put your energy into a creative project.

This is a great time to do the things you’ve always wanted to try but thought you never had time for. Many companies and institutions are offering online classes, virtual tours, concerts, operas, and other cultural activities for free for April and May 2020.

Now is the time to pursue your passion. If the pandemic has sparked an interest in healthcare or public health administration, consider checking out these free online health courses from the World Health Organization (WHO).

This, Too, Shall Pass

While it’s certain that the novel coronavirus outbreak has brought a lot of misery and fear (particularly to the vulnerable and mentally ill), it’s also certain that this pandemic will not last forever.

The world’s best doctors and scientists are working to develop a vaccine and investigate the use of antiviral drugs, and many are making great strides.

Previously ravaged countries like China and Italy are slowly beginning to reopen businesses. Eventually, the world will go back to normal.

And like every plague and pandemic before, this too will pass.

 

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