8 Common Ways The Pandemic Has Affected Our Mental Health

This article was originally published on HuffPost US.

Nothing particularly out of the ordinary happened on the day I completely broke. Well, aside from going into month seven of a terrifying global pandemic.

It was October. As a wellbeing editor, I had been covering Covid-19 and following every single update daily. When I wasn’t brainstorming stories about transmission and how to protect ourselves, I was meticulously tracking vaccine developments and death rates.

Outside of work, I was also thinking of these facts and how they applied to every facet of my life. I became my loved ones’ trusted source on the coronavirus, meaning questions about it dominated most of our conversations. I was having nightmares about being in public without a mask and waking up with headaches that made it difficult to see straight.

I kept telling myself I was lucky and that my fears were overblown, even though my body was telling me differently. No one I knew had died. I wasn’t working in an ER like some of my close friends. What right did I have to break down?

“What you’re dealing with is trauma,” my therapist said kindly during our session that day, noting that I had been traumatised to some degree for more than 200 days straight ― and it was likely going to continue. She was right; I’m still working through it as I write this, and probably will be for months to come.

So many of us have been grappling with changes to our mental health over the last year. People who have lived with mental health conditions their whole lives are finding that they’re changing in ways they weren’t expecting. Others who didn’t feel their emotional well-being was at risk are finding themselves seeking therapy, perhaps for the first time.

Mental health professionals are scrambling to keep up with the demand for their expertise. The mental toll of this health crisis cannot be underestimated. It also manifests in different ways. While I may be dealing with trauma, someone else is navigating other hard issues ― perhaps even more than one.

Here are some of the most common mental health problems therapists are seeing because of the pandemic:

Depression has always been a common mental health issue, but “what is different is the intensity and the number of people who present these symptoms,” said Alfiee Breland-Noble, a psychologist based in Washington DC and founder of the mental health nonprofit, the AAKOMA Project.

“It’s exacerbated by the isolation, the loneliness, the lack of activities that normally keep people functioning well,” she said. “Once the isolation hit us – after probably the first three or four months when we began to realise this wasn’t going away anytime soon – that’s when the floodgates really started to open.”

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