Mental Health Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have had and are continuing to have a deep effect on all our lives and in many ways. If you or someone close to you has had Covid-19, and even if not, the pandemic may have really taken its toll on your mental health. Whether it’s anxiety over health concerns, feelings of depression from isolation and loneliness, stress from losing a job, financial worries or from juggling working from home with childcare and home-schooling, dealing with bereavement or PTSD, these are things which are all natural reactions to the events of these extraordinary times. It’s important to seek the help you may need to manage and overcome these conditions as early as possible.

Our consultant psychiatrists are highly experienced in diagnosing and successfully treating the mental health conditions which may have arisen from the effects of the pandemic. During this period, they are providing consultations remotely via Zoom, Skype and Facetime, so that patients can be treated from the comfort of their own home. If you would like to find out more, please see our information on Online Appointments or contact us direct.

Depression

Depression is much more than feeling a bit low. We all have times when we feel as though everything is going wrong. Depression however, is a lingering feeling of gloom and doom. The things that once provided pleasure and a reason to get out of bed in the morning are no longer of interest. You may be missing family, friends, work colleagues and the banter of the office, the freedom to travel and go about your daily life and to enjoy the things you used to. It is not surprising that depression may have become an issue during this pandemic when at times the outlook can seem uncertain and troubling - wondering when it might all be over. Recognising there is an issue is an important first step to overcoming depression, followed by talking through those things troubling you. Often talking can be enough to relieve depression but some people may also find that a combination of talking therapies and medication in the form of anti-depressants (SSRIs) are helpful in managing depression. 

Anxiety

Anxiety about Covid-19, being asked to socially distance ourselves from others, including those we would normally be close to, to be wary of others and the threat of possibly contracting the virus can naturally make us feel anxious. If you already have a tendency to feel anxious, these feelings may become more pronounced – and may prevent you from returning to doing the things you used to enjoy, such as mixing with others, eating out, shopping or even leaving the house at all. Relaxation techniques and talking therapies can be very helpful in overcoming anxiety and in developing ways of managing these feelings.

Stress

Life has changed for us all since March. For many juggling working from home with looking after children, or having to deal with redundancy as a result of the pandemic has been highly stressful. Stress has been shown to have not only a detrimental effect on general mental health but also on physical health, especially if it goes on for some time. Stress can cause high blood pressure, heart conditions and even diabetes. It can also affect relationships with others and performance at work as irritability, low mood, anxiety, poor concentration and lack of motivation can take hold. Self-help techniques, counselling or CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can all help manage feelings of stress.

Sleep Disorders

There has been much coverage in the press on how the pandemic is affecting people’s quality of sleep. For some, more time at home away from work and the absence of a long commute has meant that for the first time in a long time they are getting a proper eight hours’ sleep. For others though, it has been the opposite. Unable to relax and drift off battling thoughts of anxiety or waking early are all signs of a sleep disorder with its roots in anxiety. Without a good night’s sleep, the day ahead becomes more challenging and stressful as concentration becomes difficult and stamina begins to wane, and a cycle of anxiety and depression can creep in. Relaxation techniques and talking therapies can help to get to the root cause, and to develop sleep strategies which can help a healthy sleep regime to return. 

Bereavement

The loss of someone close is always difficult and everyone reacts in different ways. To lose someone as a consequence of Covid-19 is especially hard if you have been prevented from being with that person in their final days and moments, or have also been unable to organise or attend their funeral due to social distancing restrictions. Bereavement can lead to depression and it takes time and patience to learn how to deal with these feelings. Talking therapies can help to manage these feelings both in the short and long term.  

PTSD

For those who have seen or experienced Covid-19 firsthand, the past few months have been like no other time. Doctors, nurses, carers, other healthcare professionals and other keyworkers dealing with cases of Covid-19 and risking their own lives on a daily basis have carried on regardless throughout this traumatic time. PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can develop as a reaction to situations which are extremely upsetting or frightening and is often characterised by feelings of panic, fear, depression, irritability and even guilt and can be accompanied by sleeping problems and difficulties with concentration. Treatment for PTSD can involve a combination of treatments such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing) or CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), medication and relaxation therapies.

OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder and can involve repetitive behaviours or rituals centred round cleanliness, health and safety, such as hand washing and cleaning, completing certain tasks in a particular way or arranging items in a particular order, counting items or repeating words. Feeling compelled to undertake these rituals serves to compensate for persistent unwanted and unpleasant thoughts or to overcome a fear of disease or infection. People with OCD realise that their behaviour is irrational but they cannot resist acting on these compulsions. The advice during the pandemic has been to wash your hands frequently, clean or disinfect surfaces and to be wary of getting too close to others. If someone already suffers from OCD, this advice only serves to feed their condition. And for someone who has never had OCD before, they may now find that they have developed it in their efforts to avert the virus. Severe OCD can make it impossible to work or to take part in everyday activities as rituals become central to someone’s life. Treatment for OCD involves Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and sometimes medication such as (SSRIs) in severe cases.


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