More than two full years of living in the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll. Beyond the direct effects of COVID-19 infections are the psychosocial and mental health effects of the pandemic including isolation and socioeconomic stressors. The COVID-19 pandemic may have brought many changes to how you live your life, and with it, at times, uncertainty, altered daily routines, financial pressures and social isolation.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. will experience a mental health condition in his or her lifetime. Surveys show a major increase in the number of U.S. adults who have reported symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia during the pandemic, compared with surveys before the pandemic.
Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life. Everyone reacts differently to difficult situations, and it’s normal to feel stress and worry during a crisis. But multiple challenges, such as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, can push you beyond your ability to cope. Many people may have mental health concerns, such as symptoms of anxiety and depression during this time. And feelings may change over time.
Self-care strategies such as eating healthy, participating in regular physical activity, and getting enough sleep are good for your mental and physical health and can help you take charge of your life. Take care of your body and your mind and connect with others to benefit your mental health.
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling helpless, sad, angry, irritable, hopeless, anxious or afraid. You may have trouble concentrating on typical tasks, changes in appetite, body aches and pains, or difficulty sleeping or you may struggle to face routine chores. When these signs and symptoms last for several days in a row, make you miserable and cause problems in your daily life so that you find it hard to carry out normal responsibilities, it’s time to ask for help.
Treatment depends on the type of mental illness and its severity. In many cases, a combination of treatments works best. If you have a mild mental illness with well-controlled symptoms, treatment from your primary care provider may be sufficient. However, often a team approach is appropriate to make sure all your psychiatric, medical and social needs are met.
If you’ve never seen a mental health provider before, you may not know how to find one who suits your specific needs. Do you need a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor? Finding the right match is crucial to establishing a good relationship and getting the most out of your treatment. Here are some things to keep in mind as you search for a mental health provider.