Pandemic-Related Anxiety

How to Sup­port Your Loved Ones

As COVID-19 pan­dem­ic rates decline, many are return­ing to their pre-pan­dem­ic social life includ­ing work­ing from their company’s office or see­ing their friends and fam­i­ly for in-per­son activ­i­ties. While some are excit­ed to get back to their pre-pan­dem­ic social life, oth­ers are expe­ri­enc­ing ele­vat­ed anx­i­ety symptoms. 

Anx­i­ety is not so sur­pris­ing when you look at the big pic­ture of what we have all been through. Many peo­ple expe­ri­enced being iso­lat­ed from their peers at school, their co-work­ers and even avoid­ed usu­al­ly sought-after social places such as busy restau­rants, movie the­aters and malls. Some peo­ple also expe­ri­enced great loss­es dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. Not only did some lose their loved ones to COVID-19, but some expe­ri­enced los­ing a job, their homes and even their close friends due to the strain COVID-19 put on relationships. 

There are two types of anx­i­ety to espe­cial­ly be on the look­out for – social anx­i­ety and health anx­i­ety. Social anx­i­ety is defined by intense fear in social sit­u­a­tions, avoid­ance of social sit­u­a­tions and fear of judge­ment from oth­ers. Health anx­i­ety on the oth­er hand is con­nect­ed to an intense fear of hav­ing or get­ting a dis­ease. COVID-19 anx­i­ety height­ed both as some began to view oth­ers as a threat due to the pos­si­bil­i­ty of con­tract­ing COVID-19. 

It is impor­tant to know the signs that your­self or a loved one is expe­ri­enc­ing anx­i­ety or depres­sion as we return to normalcy. 

Com­mon symp­toms for clin­i­cal depres­sion include: 

  • Brain fog or dif­fi­cul­ty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite, weight or sleep – this include over or under eating
  • Feel­ings of guilt, hope­less­ness, help­less­ness or worthlessness
  • Loss of inter­est – no longer find­ing inter­ests in things they once enjoyed
  • Low mood (which can be expe­ri­enced as sad­ness or apathy)
  • Sui­ci­dal ideation (in severe cases)

Com­mon symp­toms of an anx­i­ety dis­or­der include: 

  • Dif­fi­cul­ty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Gas­troin­testi­nal distress
  • Increased wor­ry and dif­fi­cul­ty con­trol­ling worries
  • Irri­tabil­i­ty
  • Nau­sea
  • Repet­i­tive neg­a­tive thoughts
  • Rest­less­ness
  • Short­ness of breath
  • Tight­ness in chest

If you notice these symp­toms in your loved one, it is impor­tant to do your research through rep­utable sources to help you under­stand why they are think­ing or feel­ing a cer­tain way. Con­sis­tent fol­low ups are anoth­er way to show your sup­port through reli­able actions. Reach­ing out or ask­ing for help can be one of the hard­est things for some­one to do when they are strug­gling. Make sure to ask if they want com­fort or solu­tions when they con­fide in you. Always be open ears to hear­ing how they real­ly are feel­ing and any con­cerns they have. Anoth­er great way to show sup­port is to val­i­date that this is indeed a dif­fi­cult time for every­one and that they are not alone.

Whether it is you or a loved one who is expe­ri­enc­ing men­tal health symp­toms, it is impor­tant to know the help and treat­ment options avail­able. There are both med­ica­tion and non-med­ica­tion approach­es. Non-med­ica­tion approach­es include uti­liz­ing con­nec­tions such as sup­port sys­tems, sup­port groups and men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als. Uti­liz­ing Nation­al Alliance on Men­tal Ill­ness (NAMI) can help bridge the gap if the per­son is hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty access­ing ther­a­py and oth­er men­tal health resources. 

Addi­tion­al tips for bet­ter­ing men­tal health include: 

  • Focus­ing on good self-care includ­ing nutri­tion, sleep, hydra­tion and exercise 
  • Reach­ing out to your pri­ma­ry care provider (if they do not already have a ther­a­pist or psy­chi­a­trist) for assistance/​referral
  • Call­ing your insur­ance com­pa­ny to find a provider for men­tal health services
  • Reach­ing out to your sup­port sys­tem (fam­i­ly, friends, church, etc.)

If you’re inter­est­ed in learn­ing more, click here to read about our Behav­ioral and Men­tal health services. 

  • I use a biopsychosocial approach to care, taking into consideration each person's biological, psychological, and social factors and their complex interactions to best understand the individual's health, illness, and treatment needs. I am dedicated to instilling hope in my clients while helping each client work towards being their personal best-emotionally, mentally, and physically through the use of individualized holistic, pharmacological, and psychotherapy treatment.