There are no guidelines that explain how to isolate, how hospitals can be prepared, or what businesses should expect once they reopen. Many of our actions are unscripted and unknowable. It turns out that this could cause a lot of anxiety, depression, and fear among Americans.
According to Healthline research conducted by YouGov using the COVID-19 tracker, Americans are reporting increased pressure on their mental wellbeing since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. The constant worry and anxiety can lead to mental health problems. Americans today are reporting higher levels of anxiety and fear. The same Healthline survey found that the increase in anxiety has continued for several weeks and shows no signs of diminishing.
According to the YouGov COVID-19 Tracker, conducted between April 13 and April 20, The fear is not felt by all groups equally; women are more concerned than men (64 to 55 percent). It is not surprising that people with health problems reported higher levels of anxiety and fear. Hispanics were almost twice as likely to report feeling “very afraid” than whites (29 percent vs. 16 percent). In the survey, 26 percent of black respondents said they were “very afraid”.
People in younger age groups are more likely to describe themselves as “very afraid” of getting sick. Only 16 percent of those aged 55 and older said that they felt “very afraid.” Twenty-two percent (adults) of the age group 18 to 34 were considered “very terrified.” The self-reported rate of depression is higher now than in the past.
According to our survey, 49 percent of respondents displayed mild or severe depression as measured by the PHQ-4 Trusted Source scale. This is a standard measure of anxiety and depressive symptoms. This number has historically been around 37 percent. The data used to compare depression “norms”, which are based on research done in Germany, is not necessarily representative of Americans.
Bernd Lowe is the researcher who wrote the article, which was first published in 2009 in Psychosomatics. He told Healthline, “In certain studies, depression and anxiety levels are slightly higher in Germany than the USA.” It is important to take this into consideration when interpreting the results.
Even so, the comparisons indicate that mental health problems are on the rise and will continue to do so.
Like anxiety, depression has symptoms that are often obvious: a depressed mood, feeling empty or hopeless, having trouble with daily tasks, increased fatigue, and sleep problems. Suicidal thoughts, plans for suicide, and thoughts of death are among the most disturbing symptoms of depression.
The signs and symptoms of anxiety are often easy to recognize. Generalized anxiety is characterized by excessive worry and difficulty controlling or stopping it. It can cause sleep disturbances, heart palpitations, and a feeling of being “on edge”. There’s a problem: everything is a mess. This makes it difficult to recognize symptoms.
Timothy J. Legg is a licensed psychologist and board-certified geriatric/psychiatric mental healthcare nurse practitioner. He is also a member of Healthline’s Medical Affairs team. In the first weeks of the outbreak, flour, yeast, sugar, and other baking ingredients disappeared from the shelves at the grocery stores. Others may blame their weight gain on the fact that gyms have closed and they’ve been cooking or baking more than usual.
Sleep patterns that change or insomnia can be a sign of a bigger problem. Sleep changes are another symptom that can be difficult to understand. Why wouldn’t you sleep more? Legg says, “I don’t have anywhere to go’ or “I’m catching up on sleep I don’t normally get!” All of these seem like plausible explanations or ways to ‘explain’ away some features that may indicate depression or anxiety.
It’s this very thing that makes it difficult to spot mental health problems in their early stages. And it could be the reason why people don’t seek help when they do. It can be difficult to determine what to expect and what not to expect.
“Fear is an adaptive and normal response to a perceived danger,” says Carla Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist from Santa Rosa, California, and the author of “Joy from Fear”. When fear is evoked in an individual, they will instinctively respond with a “fight or flight” response. The response is temporary. This is meant to be a temporary solution to a crisis. It shouldn’t last for weeks or even months.
When fear becomes chronic, a ‘fight-or-flight’ stress response is still present. Manly explains that this can lead to anxiety, stress, depression, and suicidality. The individual may be irritable and tired, anxious, hypervigilant, angry, and emotionally dysregulated. Coupled with other behavioral changes that are likely to occur during COVID-19 orders for stay-at-home, such as irregular eating and sleep patterns and changing energy usage, it is a recipe for mental health disaster.
“Everyone feels anxious, and it’s hard to distinguish between anxiety that is “clinically significant” or warranting help from anxiety that everyone experiences in these uncertain times,” explains Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychology professor and licensed clinical psychologist.
“Apathy is a different thing. Many people report lethargy due to a lack of schedule, social stimulation, routine, and job loss. It is not surprising that people would feel this way, but the question remains whether or not it is clinically important.
She continued, “Social isolation is a sign of mental illness, but we must dig deeper to determine if it is the result of distancing or avoiding other people using platforms available.” It is more difficult than ever to recognize the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fear. Individuals and professionals must find resources that will help them determine what is normal and what is not, and where they should focus their help.
It can be difficult to understand that the feelings you experience during the COVID-19 pandemic are often not only normal but also understandable. No one should feel alone when dealing with such difficulties. You are certainly not the first or the only one.Healthline’s experts shared some tips and resources, both old and new, to help people cope with the changes in mental health that so many are experiencing.
Legg recommends finding online therapists. He suggests using sources such as the Psychologists Locator of the American Psychological Association to locate someone.
“Due to COVID-19”, says this doctor, “most of my practice has moved online; and clients seem to like it; also had people coming for support but didn’t qualify as regular patients; therefore the use of telepsych is of great assistance”.
You can connect to a mental expert using smartphone apps. Many of these services are not free but offer cheaper alternatives to traditional psychotherapy.
This is something that no one else has ever experienced. Legg says that this is unlike anything we’ve experienced before.
He says, “These are difficult and frightening times.” Allowing yourself to feel natural emotions without judging them can be powerful. Ramani says that you need to pace yourself. She says that grocery shopping now takes a lot of time. It’s not as simple as popping into the store for a quart. Recognize that some things take longer and that you might not be as productive.
When you feel untethered, let a calm wash over you. Ramani says that a few deep breaths, with the eyes closed and the feet planted firmly on the ground, can do wonders.
Legg advises, “Find time to exercise.” Exercise is beneficial to stress levels and mood, even if you cannot get to the gym. You can also find some YouTube videos to watch.
Ramani believes that routine is essential for everyone, but even more so when someone is suffering from anxiety, depression, or other problems. Schedules should not be overly ambitious or perfectionistic. Keep it simple. Have one schedule with a wake-up, a morning routine, an afternoon goal, an activity, and a pleasant pastime. Even a simple wake-up can help someone with apathy.
It’s possible to make contact even though you cannot make physical contact. Ramani recommends using FaceTime or Zoom to communicate with your family. Ramani says that online support groups are a great way to connect with others.
The world we live in today is not normal. COVID-19 is a new experience, and we have no prior experiences to compare it with. This comparison shows that Americans feel more anxiety, depression, and fear than usual. There is help available if you require it. This is a very challenging time. Legg states that Americans have never experienced a pandemic that has affected employment, education, and the economy in the same way as COVID-19.
We are living in a very uncertain and stressful time right now. Do not wait if you feel stressed and notice that it affects your mood, sleeping patterns, or eating habits. Get help. “You will be happy you did.”