The Coronavirus pandemic continues to be of urgent international concern. In addition to implementing strict social distancing measures to prevent transmission, many countries and parts of the United States have had “stay at home” measures for more than half a year.
Saving lives by stopping the viral spread has been the primary focus of many governments, and many world leaders were open from the beginning about the fact that we would see a rise in cases of depression, addiction, and suicide.
Now, more than seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, depression, and addiction are rising at an alarming rate around the world. Even the United Nations has stated that it fears Coronavirus could cause a global mental health crisis.
The inability to visit family and friends socialize in groups, or travel has started to wear at many individuals, some who have never previously experienced depressive behaviors.
A study by the Center for Disease Control in July showed that more than a third of Americans had experienced some form of anxiety or depressive episode as a result of the pandemic. These numbers continue to grow due to the forced seclusion from the general population, unexpected job loss, business and school closures, loneliness, and uncertainty about the future. Financial stress has also caused mental issues to continue to grow and caused fear about future job prospects in the U.K. amongst 18-24-year-olds.
Mass psychological distress resulting from traumatic events or war is not uncommon, but the abrupt global shutdown as a result of COVID-19 came as an unexpected shock. Even Michelle Obama publicly announced that she was experiencing “low-grade” depression, a testament to how far-reaching mental health issues are during these uncertain times.
The stigma around mental health also plays a factor in these rising numbers. Many people may not feel comfortable talking to others about their feelings and emotions, causing depressive symptoms to grow and even trigger addiction.
The World Health Organization is taking action to normalize mental health issues and has even published some guidelines on how to improve your mental state. They are also encouraging people to reach out if they feel like they need help.
From homeschooling to home office, the way we live right now is not the way we did at the beginning of 2020. The psychological impact of COVID-19 is real, and the APA wants to make sure that individuals understand the symptoms and signs of depression and addiction. While health officials can not give us an end date to the Coronavirus pandemic, they can offer advice on ways to reduce depression and addiction.