The Mental Toll Caused by the Pandemic

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was done during the days of June 24th-June 30th, 2020, to assess how the pandemic is affecting mental health, substance abuse and suicidal tendencies.

During these days, a total of 5,412 (54.7%) of 9,896 eligible “invited adults” finished a web-based survey that was given to them by Qualtrics. The Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee of Monash University, which is in Melbourne, Australia, reviewed and approved the study protocol on human subjects research. 

The study found that overall, 40.9% of the subjects reported having at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, which included anxiety and depression. Suicidal thoughts were also increased. Almost twice as many subjects reported serious consideration of suicide in the previous 30 days as compared to adults in the US in 2018. The study also found that one in four Americans between the age of 18-24 years old admits that they have considered suicide in the past month due to the pandemic.

Another critical factor during this pandemic is the amount of stress that our body is now under due to the uncharted waters we find ourselves in. The science world calls this, “symptoms of a trauma-and stressor-related disorder or TSRD.” Those suffering from TSRD due to the pandemic, according to this CDC study, were found in 26.3% of the participants. When looking at substance abuse increase to cope with the corona virus pandemic, the study found that 13.3% of the subjects turned to a substance to help at this time.

“Approximately one in 10 reported that they started or increased substance use because of COVID-19,” according to the CDC. 

According to Nielson.com, “Compared with this time a year ago, during the seven-week COVID-impacted period ended April 18, brick-and-mortar alcohol dollar sales were up 21%, while online sales of alcohol have skyrocketed to over 2X that of a year ago, up 234%. In fact, alcohol is the fastest-growing e-commerce department among consumer packaged goods (CPG), and weekly growth has continued.” 

It’s no surprise that alcohol consumption is at an all-time high. Every day is the same. We are hamsters on a wheel going round and round with no way of jumping off.  If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we love routine. We crave routine. We love our morning wake-ups to go to the gym; we love our coffee breaks with friends; we love having structure and a goal. 2020 with the pandemic took that away from us. We will get it back. We have to stay focused on the now and how to build toward the future with this new normal.

While we may feel on a hamster wheel, and according to the CDC, our mental state is struggling here are some things we can do to decrease stress:

Yoga

Pray

Meditate

Journal

Write down your goals

Write positive affirmations every day

Shift your mindset to one of thankfulness

Go on a walk

Breathing exercises

Listen to music

Diffuse essential oils

Get 20 mins of sun a day

Grounding (walk around outside barefoot)

Dance around the house

Call a friend or family member

Remember to keep pushing.

And most importantly, focus on what you can control. Let everything else go.