What effects have two-plus years of the pandemic had on mental health?
The health crisis has led to a significant increase in depressive and anxiety disorders.
Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 health crisis, mental health was a topic that was rarely discussed, garnering little attention. But after years of living with daily doses of uncertainty, stress, anxiety and fear, mental health is now at the centre of public debate. As Cinthya Molina, psychologist at SHA Wellness Clinic, tells us, “we are increasingly aware of how important good mental health is and we talk more openly and naturally about it, without the embarrassment, shame or prejudice with which it was approached in the past”.
One of the most critical moments that had the greatest impact on mental health came on 15 March 2020, the day the lockdown began in Spain. As the doctor explains, “in most cases, the lockdown had an extremely negative effect. Because not only were we living in chaotic and uncertain times, but there was also social isolation, fear of infection, loss of loved ones, work and economic issues… It was a terrible scenario. All these circumstances acted as the perfect trigger for people with certain vulnerabilities or a predisposition to mental illness to develop different types of disorders, as well as aggravating the symptoms of patients with previous conditions. Moreover, there was also a lack of resources to deal with mental health issues in the midst of a health crisis. On the other hand, for a small part of the population, lockdown was a much-needed break that allowed them to spend quality time alone or with their families”.
Social isolation, the loss of friends and family, job and economic instability and facing one’s own mortality had a major impact on people’s state of mind, even more so when these negative feelings stuck around for so many months. “Pandemic fatigue refers to tiredness and lack of motivation caused by prolonged overexposure to stress, uncertainty, fear, mistrust, anger or sadness. This resulted in a significant increase in the rates of depression and phobic and anxiety disorders”, she adds.
But it is important to understand that negative emotions are part of life and that instead of trying to repress them or run away from them, we should accept and learn to manage them so that they do not become an obstacle. Cinthya recommends “daily exercise, following a healthy and balanced diet and maintaining proper sleep hygiene in order to stay physically strong with a robust immune system, which help us better overcome stressful moments. It is also very healthy mentally to make short-term plans, stop thinking about what you can’t control, spend time with family and friends, help others and practice mind-body disciplines such as meditation, yoga or conscious breathing”.
To learn more about the cognitive effects of Covid-19, Click here