Mental Health Problems Therapists Blame 2020

CRUFT Cleanup – M. Kiss

Mental health and the year no one could have predicted

Check off 2020 as the year you could get a container fire ornament for your tree. Yes, the new Covid-19 vaccine is here, but it couldn’t come soon enough in this year of chaos.

In April, more than 18 million people were unemployed; according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate is still twice as high as it was before the pandemic. In the United States alone, the death toll from Covid-19 is well above 300,000.

Most people can’t wait to wish 2020 well, but erasing the mental trauma can take a while. While there are many surprising ways Covid-19 has changed America’s health, these are the trends that mental health experts are most concerned about.

Peaks in depression and anxiety

Obviously, people would struggle with mental health during a pandemic, but the actual numbers are staggering. Depression symptoms tripled from their pre-pandemic rates, jumping from 8.5 percent before Covid-19 to 27.8 percent during the pandemic, according to a study published in September in the journal JAMA network opened. (This is why mild depression is on the rise during the coronavirus.)

Researchers found that people with lower social and economic resources — and greater exposure to stressors such as job loss — reported a “greater burden” of symptoms and predicted a “probable increase” in mental illness.

More people are also struggling with suicidal thoughts, although research suggests that the number of suicide deaths has not increased during the pandemic. In June, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that twice as many Americans had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days compared to 2018: 10.7 percent versus 4.3 percent.

The numbers were significantly higher for the 18-24 age group — one in four had considered suicide — and for Hispanics (18.6 percent), non-Hispanic blacks (15.1 percent), unpaid adult carers (30.7 percent). percent) and essential workers (21.7 percent). (Here are the things therapists would like to know about suicide.)

Josh Jonas, a psychotherapist and clinical director of the Village Institute for Psychotherapy in New York City, says the increase in suicidal ideation in 2020, but not necessarily a proven increase in suicide, matches what he sees in his patients.

“Most people who think about suicide don’t actually want to die. They just want the pain to stop. It makes sense that [during the pandemic] more would feel a kind of pain that they don’t know what to do with,” he said.

He has worked with patients whose symptoms flare up based on a variety of pandemic-related concerns: “Some are concerned about getting sick, some are concerned that their relationship is not going well, [some about] not get their new business off the ground.”

If you or someone you know has had thoughts about harming or killing yourself, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), which provides 24/7, toll-free, confidential support to those in need.

And don’t hesitate to seek help if you experience symptoms of depression, such as persistent sadness, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness or pessimism, loss of pleasure, sleep changes, fatigue, or physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment. (Here are mental health tips from therapists if you’re dealing with depression during quarantine.)

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Eating disorders are on the rise

In the face of endless memes about the “quarantine 15” and other eating-related cultural phenomena, in 2020 people have been thinking about food, exercise and body image as we stare at our own reflections in seemingly endless Zoom calls.

Robin Hornstein, a psychologist and specialist in eating disorders and body image in Philadelphia, estimates the relapse rate at about 50 to 60 percent for those who have taken an official course of treatment. (She notes that relapse rates vary based on the type of intervention or medical programs.)

“We’re seeing an increase in all eating disorders,” Hornstein says. She also points out that people spending all day online doesn’t give people an accurate reflection of what they really look like, and she believes it’s increasing body dysmorphism where people fixate on perceived flaws in their appearance.

(Here’s how to avoid emotional eating due to coronavirus stress.)

An Australian study published in the International Eating Disorders Magazine found increases in food restriction, binge eating and purging in June 2020 for those with a history of eating disorders; even in people with no history of disordered eating, the researchers found a jump in behaviors such as restricting food and binge eating.

The British organization Beat Eating Disorders reported that nearly nine out of ten people who had previously had an eating disorder experienced an increase in symptoms. The group also saw an 81 percent increase in contacts across all of their helpline channels.

During the pandemic, there are plenty of triggers for people with a history of eating disorders, Hornstein says: Isolation is a big one, especially for children and teens whose social contacts are essential for emotional development.

Other triggers include family dynamics, financial challenges, trauma, and grief. She also blames societal pressures to lose weight during quarantine, which can quickly lead to disordered eating habits. (Here’s how one woman manages her eating disorder during the coronavirus.)

If you or a loved one is struggling with obsessive thoughts about food or your body, get in touch with the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or a local eating disorder professional.

The long-term impact on healthcare workers

Psychologist Paul Greene, director of the Manhattan Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in New York, is concerned about the long-term effects of unthinkable choices health professionals have had to make.

“One thing I am very concerned about worldwide is whether healthcare providers have to make choices about who gets care in the hospital because it is overflowing; it’s much more likely to lead to PTSD because of the potential for self-blame,” he said.

In particular, he is concerned about the mental health of emergency medical technicians (EMTs). They may have seen unexpected events, which he says is a key factor in how traumatic an event can be. “If you have a 96-year-old patient who dies of heart failure, not many doctors have PTSD.[as much as from] watching a 29-year-old patient die of Covid.”

Access to therapy

The increase in the availability of telehealth services increases the convenience of meeting with a mental health professional or asking questions of a doctor or nurse without leaving your home. But for many, losing a job (and health insurance) reduced access. (Here’s how to find a therapist or counselor if you can’t leave your home.)

Mental health programs are also overwhelmed, and Hornstein said she has had times when patients struggling with eating disorders learn to wait six months for help. Responding to concerned relatives of patients, she says, “I’ve called 12 places and no one has an opening.” She said she is literally begging her contacts with health care providers to admit patients. In the meantime, she advises her patients to start workbooks to self-treat while they wait.

If you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed by emotions such as sadness, depression, or anxiety, contact the SAMHSA Disaster Helpline by calling or texting at 1-800-985-5990.

“Holy Justice”

What happens when you mix extensive political and racial unrest with a pandemic? ‘Holy righteousness,’ says Jonas. “Everyone is so sure they’re doing the right thing and anyone who doesn’t do what they do is stupid or ignorant.”

Greene believes the politicization of Covid-19 is making things worse. “When it comes to whether someone is going to wear a mask or not, it gets personal. There is a perceived threat of death or danger,” he says, calling the situation “flammable.”

So if your family member doesn’t believe in the effectiveness of masks or debate the existence of Covid-19, let them have their say and try to avoid these phrases that make arguments worse. Try some calming tactics like active listening (don’t interrupt, repeat what you hear them say), look for common ground, and maybe take a break (even a permanent one) from discussing politics. The rift between the two parties does not appear to be getting any closer than it was before the election.

(Here’s how a BIPOC mental health podcast helped this person through the pandemic.)

Relationship overload

During the quarantine, couples started spending more time together than ever before, bringing out the best and worst in couples, Jonas says.

More isn’t always better, he says, comparing relationships to desserts: “If a dessert recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar, I think if I put 12 cups of sugar in it, it’ll be better, right? No, at some point you get a negative return,” he says. “Relationships are the same way. They are about connection and intimacy. If we’re together all the time, that should help with connection, right? No.”

Jonas recommends couples who have relationship problems from being together too much to make room for the other person to have alone time to refuel. “It’s so important to understand these dynamics. We have a biological need to recharge.”

Even if you can’t do your typical night out or weekend with the guys or girls, find smaller and more socially distant ways to get some space, alone or with friends, to ensure your relationship time can be quality. .

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