The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of people around the world in unprecedented ways which caused uncertainty, a change in daily routines, stress about finances and alienation with social isolation. The concern about their health, the duration of the pandemic and job stability has created a mental impact in our society. Everyone reacts differently to stressors in life, and it is normal to worry during a crisis. But multiple concerns with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic can challenge you beyond your ability to cope. Reports show that companies and employers are having a hard time filling open positions, especially in the service industry, leading to struggling businesses, supply and demand, political division, racial tension, and inflation affect suicide risk.The estimated prevalence of major depressive disorder rose 28% globally, and anxiety disorders rose 26% globally. This corresponds to 53 million people with major depressive disorder and 76 million people with anxiety disorders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We may not understand the entire impact of COVID-19 on suicide deaths for the long-term, because suicide mortality data takes time to collect and analyze. Plus, the pandemic is not yet over. Another consideration is the time lag that often occurs in the manifestation of distress-this can be months after a traumatic or stressful period is over, says Dr. Moutier-Chief Medical Officer for the American Foundation for Suicide.
Suicide numbers in the future will depend on how much society attempts to return to the status quo. By simply restructuring our lives as they were before the pandemic, suicide rates will likely shift back to the previous patterns. It is hopeful that we can change certain facets of our lives as an adaptation to the pandemic and continue seeing declining suicide rates in the years to come.
What to be aware of:
It is important to be aware of any unusual reactions such as feeling helpless, angry, easily agitated, feeling hopelessness, anxiety, or fear. If you experience trouble concentrating on typical tasks, changes in appetite, body aches and pains, insomnia 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.
Children were no longer at school with their bullies. Employees were no longer forced to work next to toxic coworkers. People who hated their jobs suddenly had a reason to stop working.
Start with self care
It is important to get enough rest by going to bed and get up at the same times each day.
Regular exercise to reduce anxiety and impot mood.
Maintain a well-balanced diet.
Avoid substance abuse.
Turn off electronic devices 30-60 minutes before bedtime and spend less time in front of a screen or tablet.
Take time for yourself to relax with methods you enjoy such as yoga, medication, warm bath, listen to music or read a book. Choose techniques that work for you.
Maintain close and healthy relationships and build a support system.
Get help when you need it
Hoping mental health problems such as anxiety or depression will go away on their own can lead to worsening symptoms. If you have concerns or if you experience worsening of mental health symptoms, ask for help when you need it, and be upfront about how you're doing".
Studies show that to get help you may want to:
- Call or use social media to contact a close friend or loved one - even though it may be hard to talk about your feelings.
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader, or someone in your faith community.
- Contact your employee assistance program, if your employer has one, and ask for counseling or a referral to a mental health professional.
- Call your primary care provider or mental health professional to ask about appointment options to talk about your anxiety or depression and get advice and guidance. Some may provide the option of phone or telehealth
- Contact organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the Anxiety and Depression Association of America for help and guidance on information and treatment options.
If you're feeling suicidal or thinking of hurting yourself, seek help. Contact your primary care provider or a mental health professional. Or call a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
Continue your self-care strategies
You can expect your current strong feelings to fade when the pandemic is over, but stress won't disappear from your life when the health crisis of COVID-19 ends. Continue these self-care practices to take care of your mental health and increase your ability to cope with life's ongoing challenges.
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