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In the News: The Pandemic and Your Mental Health – Part III

Written by Lisa Jillanza

(…Continued from Part II)

 

Unfortunately, some disorders related to mental health, thrive in isolation situations. Lockdowns created more opportunities for domestic violence and child abuse fueled by drugs, alcohol, and financial struggle. 

Relapses of addiction, eating disorders, obesity due to inactivity, and overall suicidal thoughts/actions were also exacerbated by the pandemic; all disorders that are related to mental health. 

So, many will ask, where do we go from here? The most obvious answer is to talk about it. Seek out friends, family or even a professional to get your thoughts out. Oftentimes, counseling is enough for people to realize that they are not alone in their thoughts of anxiety or depression. 

Others may need to seek medical advice and can benefit from a prescription medication to help get some relief. Another great way to help combat mental health conditions, is to find something that helps you take away those feelings of grief, anxiety, or depression – take up a hobby, exercise, or do something positive for someone else.

And most importantly, don’t be afraid to reach out! If you are afraid that you or someone you know might hurt themselves or someone else, call 911 immediately.

Some other numbers to keep handy include:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

In the News: The Pandemic and Your Mental Health – Part II

Written by Lisa Jillanza

(…Continued from Part I)

Reading those types of statistics can make anyone even more depressed, but there are some good things and positive statistics that have come out of the pandemic, too.

  • 76% of Americans believe that their mental health is just as important as their physical health.
  • 45% of Americans received some sort of mental health service in the past year.

According to a CNN report, “The mental burden of the pandemic has facilitated more honesty and empathy around mental health, which is key to dismantling the stigma that deters some individuals from seeking help.”

Another positive aspect is that people have been reaching out for help or even serving others – as being kind has its own mental health benefits. Telehealth also has seen an uptick when it comes to mental health counseling. Telehealth can be more accessible and easier for some people, thereby having a positive effect and utilized by more people who are suffering.

Talking about mental health is also key to breaking down the barriers to getting help.  Many of us saw this play out with the recent Summer Olympic Games with gold-medalist Simone Biles speaking out about her mental health issues and her decision to pull out of some of the events she was to compete in. Other athletes, celebrities, and figure heads, all joined in to support Biles and speak out about their own experiences with mental health conditions.  Experts suggest that “normalizing” mental health has many more positive effects on the public.

The CNN report goes on to say that “Every time we talk about public health, we should talk about mental health. And every time we talk about COVID-19, we should talk about mental health." 

(…Continued in Part III)

The Pandemic and Your Mental Health – Part I

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Editor’s Note: This is a three-part article on The Pandemic and Your Mental Health. Should you experience any feelings of self-harm, please seek medical help.

 

It’s no wonder that we have been hearing more and more about mental health over the past two years.  The pandemic not only threatened our physical health with concerns of contracting COVID-19, but it also threatened our mental health with thoughts of anxiety, worry, stress, and so much more.

Many of the strategies used to ensure that our physical health was/is preserved during the pandemic – separation, isolation, distancing – are huge risk factors in creating mental health issues. On top of that add in grief from losing loved ones because of COVID-19, fear, uncertainty, job loss or work-from-home/no contact with your peers, this has all created the perfect storm for an already anxious world to become even more anxious

Studies conducted over the course of the pandemic about mental health has unfortunately shown an increase in various areas including:

  • 73% of healthcare providers feel their family’s life is at risk because of their job during the pandemic.
  • 64% of people indicated feeling anxious in general because of the pandemic.
  • 58% believe social distancing is a reason to be concerned about their mental health.
  • 63% of students (in California) said they’d had a mental breakdown in the past year.
  • Domestic violence incidents rose by 8.1% from 2020 to 2021 – though experts suggest this amount is more of a “floor than a ceiling” as many domestic violence incidents go unreported in the United States.

(Continued in Part II…)

 

In the News: Do You Have Caregiver Burnout?

Written by Lisa Jillanza

For several years now, we have seen a “role-reversal” where many adults are finding themselves in the role of caregiver for their aging parents and/or siblings. Oftentimes caregivers are so busy caring for others that they forget to care for themselves or their immediate families.

Experts refer to this condition as “caregiver burnout.” The symptoms of caregiver burnout mirror the symptoms of depression and stress, but they may also include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy.
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both.
  • Getting sick more often.
  • Using alcohol or sleep medication too often.
  • Feeling blue, cranky, or hopeless.

But what causes caregiver burnout? Besides neglecting themselves, burnout can also be caused by:

  • Role confusion – if you have been a caregiver for a long time, you can forget how to be a parent, spouse, or friend.
  • Lack of control – you may feel like you lack the skills, money, or resources that your loved one needs.
  • Unreasonable demands – you may take on too much, mainly because you are the taking on the task alone.
  • Unrealistic expectations – you may expect your care to have a positive effect on your loved one, when in fact it might not.

While caregiver burnout is the harsh reality for so many, all is not lost. You can reverse the burnout you feel simply by knowing your limits, asking for help, setting realistic goals, and most importantly taking time for yourself.

In the News: Seven Reasons for Memory Loss

Written by Lisa Jillanza

We have all been there… we have walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator door and forget what we were going in there to get. Or we walked into a room and didn’t know why we went in that room in the first place. While many of us will instantly blame dementia or other memory loss conditions, experts say that there are several things, or a combination of things, that may be the culprit. Here are seven of them:

You are stressed or anxious- the stress hormone that keeps you all revved up, affects the hippocampus and the other parts of the brain that are involved in memory.

You’re feeling depressed – research shows a link between depression and cognitive impairments, including memory loss.

You’re a woman in or around menopause – among the many issues involving menopause, cognitive impairment is also on the list.

You’re not sleeping well or enough – poor sleep can affect your memory in a big way.

Maybe your medications are fogging your mind – certain medications (unfortunately those that help you combat depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness) are known to affect memory.

You could be drinking or partying too much - abusing alcohol or any substance (such as opioids) that can slow your central nervous system may affect memory as well.

Perhaps you have a thyroid issue – Hypothyroidism (which is when your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone) not only causes forgetfulness and brain fog, but research has shown that the condition can result in shrinkage of the hippocampus.