There is no denying that the outbreak of COVID-19 has created a wealth of mental health problems all over the world. An increase in stress and confinement has created a mental health crisis in the United States. The CDC has even found that anxiety and depressive disorders increased significantly from April to June 2020.
We cannot do much about COVID-19, but there are ways to increase your mental health during the pandemic. This article explains the symptoms of mental health problems, how COVID-19 is involved and provides some strategies for coping.
Signs of Mental Health Problems
The first step towards increasing your mental health is to acknowledge that you have a problem. That is why recognizing the symptoms of a mental health problem is so important. It is also important to destigmatize the term “mental health problem.”
We don’t just use “mental health problems” to describe some pathology. If you have mental health issues, you are not “just crazy.” Mental health issues encompass a wide range. From schizophrenia and addiction to anxiety and depression, mental health issues are a spectrum.
Some signs that you may be dealing with an undiagnosed mental health disorder are as follows.
- Constant feelings of sadness. Everyone feels sad sometimes, but if you feel sad all the time, you may have a mental health issue.
- Low energy and tiredness. Again, sporadic feelings of low energy or being tired are normal. If you have to drag yourself out of the bed every morning, then you may have a larger issue.
- Withdrawal from loved ones. A common sign of mental health issues is that you begin withdrawing from the family and friends who could help you through this tough time.
- Brain fog or a lack of concentration. The sleeping problems and low energy that come with mental health issues may also cause brain fog or make it hard for you to concentrate.
- Mood changes. Mood swings from one emotional extreme to another are another sign of mental health problems.
You may not have all of these symptoms. However, experiencing two or more for an extended period often indicates a mental health problem. If you are in this situation, it is time to speak to a medical professional, such as the counselors at BetterHelp.
COVID-19 and Mental Health
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, COVID-19 has created a mental health crisis all over the world. Anxiety and depression disorders have especially been on the rise. COVID-19 has contributed to mental health problems in a variety of ways. These include
- Increasing your fears and worries. The economic and health fallout of the pandemic has increased the fears and worries of many Americans. You may worry about older relatives or be dealing with the loss of an income. These are very real problems that can cause mental health issues over time.
- Increasing your use of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. Alcohol consumption alone during the pandemic has increased significantly. Because these substances are linked to mental health issues, the increased consumption is especially worrying. Stopping alcohol for a short period of time can get you on track and save you money.
- Not seeking out treatment. Many health problems, including mental health ones, are being pushed to the background during the pandemic. People are avoiding doctor’s offices and clinics. This is a huge problem for mental health because it may make people put off getting treatment for their issues, which will only make their symptoms more severe.
Mental Health Strategies During COVID-19
Obviously, there is a lot that we cannot control the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are steps you can take to increase your mental health. Here are five of the best.
Disconnect from the news.
Yes, it is important to keep informed about the state of the world. Yet, too much news from any source can become detrimental to your mental health. Between the pandemic, politics, and environmental disasters, there are a lot of negatives in the news at the moment. Taking some time every day to disconnect from this negativity can have a huge impact on your overall mental health.
Get enough sleep.
Getting enough sleep is essential for good mental health. Sleep is our body’s way of recharging and healing. Lack of proper sleep can lead to a variety of mental health issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorders.
Of course, many mental health issues cause sleep problems. If you experiencing trouble sleeping, try some of the lifestyle changes recommended here. If you still cannot sleep, then you may want to contact a professional about the problem.
Avoid overusing alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.
As mentioned in the last section, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs can all intensify mental health issues. Many people use these substances as a way to self-medicate. However, often they have the opposite effect. Over time the emotional effects of too much alcohol, tobacco, and drugs can wreak havoc on your mental health.
Work on your physical health.
Exercise and daily activity have been shown to increase our mood and improve mental health. This does not mean that you have to exercise for hours every day. Instead, focus on getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week.
You don’t have to go to the gym to complete these recommendations. Any activities that get your heart rate up (cardio) or work your muscles (weight training) counts. The mental health benefits will be as significant as the physical ones.
Contact a mental health professional.
Finally, if your symptoms persist for two or more weeks, it is likely time to contact a mental health professional. They will be able to help you determine what mental health issues you suffer from. Professionals are also ideally suited to recommend treatments and any necessary medication. It is not a weakness to get help, especially for mental health issues cause by COVID-19.
2020 has been a tough year for everyone. It makes sense that you may be struggling with mental health issues. Don’t let your pride keep you from getting help. Try the strategies described in this article, and you will be feeling better in no time.