The COVID-19 pandemic has harmed people’s mental health globally. The measures that are implemented to help curb the spread of the virus include social distancing, as well as complete lockdown and isolation. Studies show that long-term social isolation may have a negative impact on mental wellness. In this article we have compiled a list of signs that COVID 19 is is affecting your mental health.
Anxiety is one of your body’s first responses to stress. The pandemic has brought about increased levels of stress in the form of upsetting news regarding the pandemic, death statistics, loss of income as a result of businesses having to shut down, and worrying about the health of loved ones and yourself. Consequently, it is not surprising that an increasing number of people are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety.
How do you know if your anxiety is increasing? Well, you may begin to have constant thoughts of when you will earn an income again, how you will survive until then, or whether you will catch the virus and if you’d survive it if you did. Although these are valid thoughts and concerns, if you find that you are experiencing these thoughts consistently, meaning fear is now a permanent emotion, you may be showing signs that your mental health has been affected.
Fortunately, there are companies, like Jackson House, that are equipped to help you regulate these thoughts and emotions. They provide an environment where your thoughts and feelings are validated, and they help you to navigate negative cognitions and improve your mental health. With compassionate care, you may be able to live through the pandemic while maintaining the best mental state possible.
A constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest in life are considered to be common symptoms of depression. The lockdown measures have meant having to be confined in your home for long periods. You aren’t able to visit loved ones and have to constantly find ways of entertaining yourself in your home. After some time, you may begin to feel sad about the sudden change in your lifestyle.
Over time, a persistent feeling of sadness can become overwhelming and you may need to reach out for help. If these symptoms are left unattended, they may contribute to the development of even more serious symptoms. Some people who have chronic depression may begin to entertain the thought of suicide because they believe life has become unbearable. If you think you are experiencing constant sadness and heaviness, you may need to get professional guidance from a licensed therapist.
3. Substance Abuse
Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression may contribute to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. However, the use of drugs and alcohol to avoid intense negative emotions and thoughts is detrimental not only to your mental health, but also to your physical wellbeing. Some people who are not be experiencing intense feelings of sadness may start to take drugs and alcohol simply to help pass the time. However, this behavior may lead to addiction and a host of other behavioral issues.
If you notice that you need drugs and/or alcohol just to get through each day of the pandemic, it is recommended that you speak with a trained therapist. Online therapy is available for people who are housebound or self-quarantined.
4. Body Harm
Self-isolation and the thought that you are no longer productive may lead to feelings of frustration. Therefore, it is important to find healthy ways of expressing this frustration. A few healthy ways to blow off frustration and stress include exercising, changing your environment, journaling, or surrounding yourself with positive people who can offer advice and support. If positive methods of expression are unavailable, constant feelings of frustration may contribute to decreased self confidence and a poor self image.
Some people resort to hurting themselves in hopes of achieving a temporary distraction from negative emotions or thoughts. They do this so that their brain will be focuses on the physical pain rather than the emotional issues they are facing. However, these types of “distractions” are incredibly dangerous as you may become permanently injured or accidentally killed. If you have thoughts of hurting yourself, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 right away.
5. Weight Changes
If your weight has drastically changed during the pandemic, you may be struggling mentally. The relationship that some people have with food is indicative of their mental state. Some individuals resort to comfort eating when they are in a negative state of mind. The food provides temporary pleasure as it releases feel-good hormones. The negative thoughts and emotions are temporarily placed on hold during these moments but the behavior ultimately leads to rapid weight gain.
On the other spectrum are those individuals who neglect eating when they are trying to cope with negative emotions. For these people, a negative state of mind may overwhelm them so much that they lose the appetite to eat. When they try to eat at a later time, digestion may be difficult, and they may feel bloated. This may lead to further abstinence from food, which results in rapid weight loss.
6. Grooming Neglect
Grooming neglect means no longer taking care of your hygiene and your surroundings. When some people are facing mental difficulties, physical activities and daily routines may seem daunting or even impossible. Taking a shower, brushing their teeth and hair, changing clothes, and sweeping the house suddenly become unbearable. In some extreme cases, poor hygiene may lead to serious mental and physical diseases.
Take a look around your house and have a look in the mirror. Your surroundings and physical grooming are sometimes a reflection of your mental state. Of course, there are days when you simply feel like sleeping in and skipping your daily cleaning. However, if you are consistently ignoring your personal hygiene during the pandemic it may indicate that you need additional help.
7. Social Withdrawal
Social distancing and enforced lockdowns have placed physical interactions on hold. This means that people have had to use the digital space to continue interacting with each other. If you used to chat with your family often but now notice that you’re rarely interested in keeping in touch via online platforms, you may be experiencing social withdrawal. People with social withdrawal may be so consumed by their thoughts that they can’t muster up the mental or emotional energy it takes to keep in touch with their loved ones. In some cases, social withdrawal leads to the development of anxiety and depression.
8. Difficulty Concentrating
To limit the spread of covid-19 most people have been asked to work from home. These changes initially contributed to a decrease in work productivity as many people find it difficult to concentrate when adjusting to a new working environment. However, most people have shown that they are able get used to changes in their environment over time. If you are still unable to concentrating on your work despite experiencing the pandemic for the past 10 months, it may indicate that you need additional support.
Speaking with a mental health professional can help you to regain your mental clarity and focus. In these times of economic hardship, losing your job due to an inability to concentrate may be more damaging than you think. Make your home environment easier to work in by keeping your work items in order and within reach. You may also find it helpful to speak with your work colleagues who may be able to share helpful tips.
9. Damaged Relationships
One of the signs that you may be affected by the pandemic is that your relationships are becoming strained. You may be experiencing emotions, such as anger, fear, and uncertainty, which are projected to the people around you. Constantly arguing with your loved ones, as well as frequent displays of aggression, stonewalling, and physical abuse are signs that your mental health may be affected. It helps if you are more mindful during your interactions and take steps to rectify any harm you may have caused.
10. Poor Sleeping Habits
Restful sleep is necessary for mental wellness. Poor sleep causes exhaustion, which results in mental fog. Mental fog limits your ability to carry out daily activities to the best of your abilities. It may even contribute to short-term memory issues.
The thoughts and experiences of the pandemic have caused many people to miss hours of needed sleep. Rather than resting, much of their time may be spent closely following the news and thinking about what the future may hold for them and their family. On the other hand, excessive sleeping is also unhealthy because it makes your mind and body more inactive. Sleep issues are also a common symptom of depression and anxiety.
Keep a sleep journal and write down how long you sleep and how you feel after waking up. This information will help you to understand how you can regulate your sleep and improve your mental health.
11. Physical Ailments
The body carries tension when you feel stressed. If you experience prolonged physical pain in your body, you may be facing intense stress, which can affect your mental health. Do a body sweep at different times of the day to take note of any physical pains that are constantly present in your body.
Some people experience constant head, neck, back, and shoulder pain, as well as swollen hands and feet. If you are experiencing these issues, it is recommended that you contact your doctor. If your doctor cannot find any physical causes for your discomfort, then stress may be an underlying factor. A licensed therapist can help you to manage your stress and anxieties in a healthy way.
12. Hair Loss
If you notice chunks of your hair falling off when you comb or run your fingers through it, you may be severely stressed. Significant stress causes hair follicles to go into rest mode temporarily. While your hair will likely grow back, this is a major indication that you may need to lower your stress levels. Loss of hair is may also indicate the presence of other underlying health problems so you should make an appointment to see your doctor.
Paranoia is the persistent feeling of being threatened. In this particular case, the virus is the threat. You may begin to feel as if the virus is lurking around every corner and this may cause you to feel as if you are stuck in one place. You may even begin believing that you have caught the virus although you have not been tested. Feelings of paranoia may cause you to wash your hands and clean of your surroundings constantly, without taking a break. Although you have to be careful of the virus and practice all the hygiene processes, doing these things excessively may be an indication of mental health difficulties.
One way of alleviating paranoia is by not watching the news about the pandemic. You can follow official sites that inform you about the facts and directives you need to be safe. You can also participate in activities that help you to relax and have fun.
You can be more mindful of your thoughts to determine whether you have been affected by the pandemic. The sudden shift in life plans and routines may have caused some people to become pessimistic about the future. The uncertainties associated with the pandemic make it more difficult to plan for the future and these issues may make you feel as if you no longer have control of your life. The danger of becoming routinely pessimistic is that it may lead to a sense of hopelessness where you no longer see purpose in your life.
If you have become more pessimistic since the pandemic it’s important to share your thoughts with people who understand and can help you through them. Bottling them up may lead to mental and even physical ailments.
Becoming mindful of your thoughts may help you to stop the negative cognitions in their tracks. You can try different methods, such as replacing every negative thought with three positive ones. With practice, these behaviors may become healthy habits that help you to navigate the challenges of the pandemic with greater ease.
If you’re experiencing the signs listed above, it may be helpful to seek social support or even professional help. A mental health specialist can guide you on how to navigate the pandemic in such a way that your mental wellbeing will be preserved. While social distancing is now the norm, it is important for you to remember that you are not alone. Many of your loved ones, friends, and neighbors are willing to help you get through these difficult times.