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Article written by Cosimo Simeone, Msc, PgdDip, Bsc, Physiotherapist

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic had a dramatic effect on mental health, but let’s have a look to the possible long term effects on it. The long-term effects of the Covid pandemic on mental health can also be seen in the rise of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, post traumatic syndrome (PTSD), and sleeping disorders.

Along with the long-term effects on mental health, the pandemic has also caused a significant rise in drug abuse and addiction. A recent study found that 3 years after the pandemic began, drug abuse is still high. The effects of the pandemic have left many people feeling isolated, anxious, and depressed. For this reason, it is more likely that they will turn to drugs to cope. Prevention and treatment of substance abuse should be a priority as well, alongside with treatment of mental health conditions.

According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, the pandemic has caused a significant increase in mental health issues. Over 40% of Americans report higher levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues than they experienced prior to the pandemic. This percentage is even higher among people with pre-existing mental health conditions (1).

Governments tactics against mental issues caused by Covid

Governments worldwide have taken an active role in helping to cope with mental health issues caused by the Covid pandemic. Providing financial aid to those suffering from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress and investing in mental health professionals. Governments have been dedicating significant resources to ensure the wellbeing of their citizens.

Governments have also implemented mental health awareness campaigns to help spread awareness about the importance of seeking help and support for mental health issues. In addition, governments have allocated funds for research into the long-term effects of the Covid pandemic on mental health.

As the pandemic continues to affect our lives, governments must continue to prioritize mental health support to the people. The long term effects of COVID-19 on mental health are still largely unknown. The pandemic has caused a dramatic increase in anxiety and depression, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.

While the effects of the pandemic on mental health are difficult to quantify, the cost of treating these conditions can be substantial. The World Health Organization estimates that mental health treatment costs around $200 billion annually. Moreover, this amount is likely to increase substantially due to the pandemic.

Additionally, the costs associated with lost productivity and quality of life due to mental health issues will likely be even higher. It is estimated that the total cost of mental health care related to the pandemic could reach $1 trillion or more over the next decade. Therefore, it is essential that governments, businesses, and individuals take steps now to ensure that mental health remains a priority. Allocating the appropriate resources are to help those affected by the pandemic.

Covid triggered pre-exisiting mental health conditons?

Covid has taken a huge toll on mental health, and for those who already suffer from pre-existing mental health conditions, the psychological effects of the pandemic can be even more severe. This is because already existing mental health issues are often exacerbated by the pandemic, such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on mental health, with recent studies indicating that it has exacerbated pre-existing bipolar disorder in many individuals.

People living with bipolar disorder face an increased risk of relapse or worsening of symptoms; this due to the extreme stress experienced during the pandemic (2). In fact the virus has caused disruptions to daily life, such as social distancing, working from home, and lack of physical contact.

As a result, individuals can become overwhelmed and unable to cope with the changes and their emotions. Furthermore this leads to emotional instability and manic or depressive episodes. It is important to take proactive steps to manage bipolar disorder during this time, such as maintaining regular contact with friends and family. Also taking medications as prescribed, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and emotional stability.

There is also the potential for increased suicide, and other serious mental health issues due to the pandemic. It is important to recognize the potential long-term effects of the pandemic on mental health and take steps to mitigate them.

Symptoms PTSD due to Covid pandemic

The long-term effects of Covid-19 on mental health are still being studied, but one of the most commonly reported issues has been post-traumatic stress. Those who have had to deal with the loss of a loved one, job insecurity, or financial instability have been more likely to suffer from this mental health issue.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress can include depression, anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, difficulty sleeping, and avoidance of situations that remind one of the traumatic event. People who have gone through a traumatic event, such as a pandemic, may find it difficult to move on and return to their normal life. Therefore, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

How to cope with Anxiety, Depression, Sleeping Disturbance and PTSD?

There are many resources available to help individuals cope with mental health issues, such as therapy, support groups, and online resources (https://www.transformationsnetwork.com/post/8-online-mental-health-resources-anyone-can-access) where you can seek professional help.

Sleeping disturbances are a common symptom of mental health issues and the Covid pandemic has certainly put an extra strain on many people. If you’ve been finding it difficult to sleep or stay asleep, there are some things you can do to help cope with these issues.

Start by setting a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends. Limit distractions in the bedroom such as television, computers and phones, and try to reserve the bedroom for sleep only. Take a warm bath before bed and exercise during the day.

Just Breath

Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation and consider cognitive-behavioral therapy if your sleep problems are persistent. Lastly, consult with your doctor or a mental health professional if your sleeping problems are severe.

It is also important to practice self-care and take time to relax and recharge. Taking proactive steps to address mental health now can help prevent long term issues later. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthily, stay active, and reach out to people you trust. Additionally, it may be helpful to seek professional help such as Cognitive behavior therapist (CBT), psychologist and psychotherapists.

CBT is an effective way to cope with the long-term effects of the Covid pandemic on mental health. It’s a form of psychotherapy, which focuses on the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

CBT helps people identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors that can cause or exacerbate depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress (3). Through CBT, people can learn how to better manage their emotions, improve their coping skills, and develop healthier ways of thinking.

CBT therapists use some strategies including cognitive restructuring, relaxation techniques, and problem solving. Cognitive restructuring helps people to reframe their thoughts and develop positive thinking patterns. Problem solving helps people to identify and address the issues that are causing their distress. Other strategies include goal setting, developing problem-solving skills, and increasing self-care. All of these strategies can help people to manage their mental health challenges in the long term and improve their quality of life.

Exercises as Medicine

Exercising can be an excellent way to reduce depression and anxiety. Regular and moderate physical activity has been proven to boost mood, increase energy levels, reduce stress and help people cope with difficult emotions. Simple activities such as walking, running, jogging, biking, swimming, or stretching can help to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Additionally, taking the time to practice deep breathing exercises and mindfulness can also help to reduce mental health symptoms. Taking the time to develop a regular exercise routine can be of great benefit to those still struggling with the long-term effects of the Covid pandemic on their mental health. If you wish to have a prescribed exercises programme tailored on your need you can book an appointment with our expert physiotherapist here https://mundushealth.com/make-appointments/

Another important tool is mindfulness. Mindful activities like meditation and yoga can help individuals to relax, refocus their thoughts, and reduce stress levels. Mindfulness involves being aware of thoughts, feelings, and the physical sensations of the present moment. Through mindfulness, people can learn to observe their thoughts without judgment and become more aware of how their body responds to stress and emotion.

A Type of mindfulness is diaphragmatic breathing for example, here in this link you can see how to perform it, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPgwQFU1Cwc. Mindful activities like meditation and yoga can help individuals to relax, refocus their thoughts, and reduce stress levels.

In conclusions is recommendable to take action on your mental health now to prevent more issue later. Everyone was involved in the pandemic so this is a widespread problem. Don’t be shy to show your emotions, just focus on your wellbeing and living a better life. I hope you enjoyed the article and please contact us also for further help if needed.

References:

  1. Bourmistrova, N. W., Solomon, T., Braude, P., Strawbridge, R., & Carter, B. (2022). Long-term effects of COVID-19 on mental health: A systematic review. Journal of affective disorders, 299, 118–125. 
  2. Tesfaye, E., Alemayehu, S., & Gebru, E. (2022). Bipolar Disorder after COVID-19 Infection: A Case Report from an Ethiopian Perspective. Case reports in psychiatry, 2022, 8931599.
  3. Kar N. (2011). Cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder: a review. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 7, 167–181.
  4. Gautam, M., Tripathi, A., Deshmukh, D., & Gaur, M. (2020). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression. Indian journal of psychiatry, 62(Suppl 2), S223–S229.

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