It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our personal, professional and social lives in unprecedented ways. The fast-spreading virus has the country—and world—scrambling to adjust and develop new strategies to accomplish everyday tasks.
Social scientists and psychologists have warned of the toll the coronavirus pandemic may take on our mental health. We are now several months into wide-scale shutdowns and escalating death tolls, so don’t be surprised if you notice the following signs that this global crisis is affecting your mental well-being.
- Increased anxiety or paranoia. Uncertainty and the fear of the unknown can increase symptoms of anxiety. Media coverage of global crises and horror stories shared through social media can also elevate paranoia.
- Stress. Social isolation raises the stress hormone Cortisol in our systems, which can lead to impaired cognitive performance and a compromised immune system, says Dr. Amy Sullivan of the Cleveland Clinic.
- Irritability. A review of 24 studies of quarantine during disease found that most reported negative psychological effects, including PTSD symptoms, confusion and anger.
- Grief or sadness. Grief expert David Kessler shared with the Harvard Business Review that the human race is feeling a collective grief around the loss of normalcy, the fear of economic toll, and the loss of connection caused by the pandmeic.
- Lethargy or fatigue. Grief, fear, uncertainty, and constantly adapting to new information can tax the nervous system and zap our mental and emotional energy.
- Depression. Social rhythm reinforcers—such as going to work, school, or social events—help regulate and maintain our moods. Without them, our emotional and mental states are affected, says Simon Rego, chief psychologist at Montefiore Health System.
- Addiction. Addiction is often the result of relying on coping mechanisms to deal with increased levels of stress or trauma. Addiction can include overworking, obsessive thoughts, or abuse of substances.