What makes it so hard?

Anxiety and depression are so prominent in a pandemic.

Devon tuned into his department meeting. Another Zoom meeting. He was so tired of online meetings…the technical lapses, interruptions…  you can read people so much easier face to face. At the same time, he could sit in an easy chair for the meetings, so that wasn’t so bad. But no one seemed like themselves. Anxiety and depression are so prominent and have clearly taken their toll on his colleagues.

Still, maybe there’s also a palpable energy in face-to-face meetings. He wasn’t sure if that was the problem or not, but Devon found it more and more difficult to focus, and to think creatively for his job. As the year had passed, he felt less and less capable and more like dead weight. 

He kept asking himself what was wrong with him? Where were the sparks that flew when he dove into a problem?  Rather than sparks, Devon felt more like a dud.

Then, he got the phone call about his next door neighbor’s son. Just like Devon’s family, his neighbor’s son was taking his high school classes at home, and online. At first, the young man Stewart, had stopped logging in to classes. Devon had heard this was becoming more and more of a problem in his community. 

But, apparently Stewart was becoming more and more depressed. Devon just learned yesterday the boy had ended his life…right there at home.

The grief settled over Devon like a black fog. This on top of the recent deaths from COVID-19 of two of his friends, 10 days apart. But Stewart was 15. His whole life was ahead of him. It was all too tragic.

COVID Tragedies Can Trigger Anxiety and Depression

He’d watched the boy grow up, playing with his own kids over the years. And it stirred up more worry about Devon’s own family. He and his wife had tried to keep a close eye on their children to be sure they logged in to school and did their work.

But, they couldn’t be everywhere and they both worked online. But they tried. Still, life was becoming increasingly overwhelming. His heart went out to Stewart’s family. And he felt a low, sinister rumble of trepidation within himself. The dangers of the pandemic went far beyond the risk of getting sick with the virus. 

The fear of becoming too depressed to function, or of his family succumbing to it, rose inside him till his  ears were buzzing.

All in all, Devon knew he had to keep functioning, and presenting a solid, unified front with his wife. He also knew the danger of drowning in it all. When his meeting ended, he called a highly recommended psychiatrist for a consultation appointment. He wanted to be proactive, before it was too late to think straight.

There’s just something about a pandemic that can make happy people depressed or relaxed people overwhelmed with anxiety.

We’ve talked about it before. In the early months of COVID-19, that the circumstances that accompany a widespread environment like this can lead to your symptoms worsening. It can also lead to symptoms you never suffered before. Anxiety and depression are so prominent these days.

Well, at this point, this global state of affairs has been causing stressors that aren’t new anymore. But they do go on and on and on….and on…

And periodically, we need to stop and take a breath and ask how you’re doing?

At this point, there have been 99,195,630 COVID-19 cases globally, with 2.1 million deaths. In the US, 25.2 million cases, and over 419 thousand deaths. The numbers are staggering. And the scale of this pandemic is difficult to grasp.

These are people. Our teachers, our friends, our neighbors, our families. Grandparents. Parents. Our children.

And…since we are a species with both mind and body, it stands to reason— doesn’t it? —that both our minds and our bodies are impacted by this. With anxiety about sickness, anxiety about isolation, anxiety about lifestyle change and lack of spontaneous freedom, it does stand to reason that the problems and stress factors would pile up and also lead to depression. Anxiety and depression are so prominent these days…and they often go together.

We’ve watched a 1st wave of COVID spread, then a 2nd wave, then a 3rd…and it’s not over. The virus changes, mutates, and different strains have varying impacts. Some cause milder symptoms, some spread much faster, some cause more severe symptoms. It goes without saying that all this has affected you…and all of us,

Most of us know people who have had the COVID-19 virus, and many of us have seen our friends and loved ones die because of it. This is a traumatic time that none of us will forget.

Research Helps Us Understand the Impact of a Tragic and Stressful Experience

A group of Danish researchers in Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark led by Søren Østergaard conducted a survey during each of those 3 waves to better understand the variation in psychological well-being regarding symptoms of anxiety and depression during this pandemic, among participants in Denmark. 

Their results were relevant to the global community, even though severity of the disease hasn’t been equal everywhere.

They reported results of the survey for wave 1 (March 31st to April 6th), wave 2 (April 22 – April 30th), and wave 3 (November 20 – December 8 … just last month.)

The 1554 respondents were an average age of 49.5.

There was a statistically significant decline in psychological well being from wave 2 to wave 3, especially with men. And during wave 3, worry, anxiety, and hopelessness decreased over those levels in wave 2, but feelings of guilt increased.

Anxiety and depression have been prominent in Denmark, too.

In a nutshell, these researchers ended the paper with the statement that by late November to early December, the psychological well being of the Danish population had fallen again to the level of March/April, when it had been at its lowest.

Overall, they found that when COVID cases are high, and the measures to reduce the spread of the virus like quarantine, isolation, social distancing, and major lockdowns are the most widespread, there is a significant impairment of psychological wellbeing.

What Can You Do with This Information?

Setting aside the particulars of a study in Denmark, and focusing on right here in the US, we need to find ways to intervene in your own state of mind. Your own wellbeing.

Gather online with friends and family to interact for online chess. Talk and laugh together. Watch your grand babies blow bubbles.  Share a spaghetti dinner, complete with candles, where each participant cooks at home then all connect and chat while eating.

Social interaction is fundamental to your well being. When you share a meal on Zoom, you don’t have to wear a mask!

Even so, if this ongoing pandemic seems to be having a serious impact with depression, social anxiety, hopelessness, even suicidal thinking, ketamine infusions may be able to turn that around and refresh your resilience. There is still hope.

Anxiety and depression so prevalent during pandemic

At Innovative Psychiatry,  we’re all about helping you get a leg-up to manage these challenging times, and meet the frustrations in your life with flexibility and peace. We offer IV ketamine treatment — after a thorough screening and evaluation — to those whom we determine are good candidates for ketamine’s extraordinary benefits. Ketamine treatment is not for everyone, because circumstances as well as the medical and psychiatric history of some patients indicate ketamine is not the right choice. However, it can be so helpful to so many…it can be transformative.

We provide a safe place for treatment. We now test our staff at least once each week to verify they are COVID free… We can also refer our patients to a local DNA lab that will do same day PCR testing for those patients who wish it. In addition, we installed technology that destroys the coronavirus and all viruses and bacteria in the air and on all surfaces fast.

Our goal is to help you get better and to keep you safe.

You have struggled, tried to break through, tried to carry the anxious and depressive symptoms that have weighed you down for a long, long time. We want to help you put that struggle in your past. So you can feel restored. So that you can be your best self. To have the energy, freedom, and hope to build your life again with creativity and joy…and to have the resilience to move from day to day and week to week.

You needn’t postpone it any longer. Call us.

We can answer your questions and sort out the possibilities together.

To the restoration of your best self,

signature of Lori Calabrese, M.D.

Lori Calabrese, M.D.

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