COVID-19 emerged towards the end of December 2019 and declared a global pandemic in March 2020. Cases quickly spread from China to South Korea, Europe, and America before the pandemic was declared. As of 22nd June 2020, there are almost 9 million cases and rising, with each day bringing in at least 100,000 new cases. This pandemic has steered thoughts away from these long term problems and has resulted in all resources going towards humanitarian aid and COVID-19 relief. Although COVID-19 has had numerous negative implications of the world, not many people are thinking about its effects on mental health.
In the past, people have focused on their physical health more than their mental health but in recent times mental health has become more of a pressing issue and has given rise to a number of other effects, such as increased suicide rates and unhappiness in individuals. This is important because it is a vital part of life and affects our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Having stable mental health can result in high productivity and effectiveness in the workplace and school and overall high quality of life.
This pandemic and lockdown have caused social interaction to decline exponentially and therefore resulted in individuals losing people to talk to. This loss of a support system alongside being stuck with family members whom you may not get along with can cause an increase in stress levels and no way to let it out, which leads to more significant mental health issues. Students are also working from home and this extra workload can cause psychological problems. To add to this, some working parents are frustrated because of potential job layoffs which could have a negative impact on both them and their children.
The main mental health issues that have been caused by COVID-19 are anxiety and depression. No one really knows what causes depression, which is classified as a mood disorder and may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities (according to healthline.com). Although research has shown that one factor is a biochemical imbalance in the brain, it isn’t as simple as you would think. It involves many chemicals in the brain which work inside and outside nerve cells, which are billions of reactions that make up your mood. This shows how two people with the same symptoms but have a completely different problem on the inside which means their treatment could be entirely different. The feeling of worry and stress are normal human responses when people are in a state of danger and this pandemic has caused widespread despair and feelings of vulnerability.
Anxiety has also spread wildly because of many concerns during these confusing times. Whether its the uncertainty of when we will return to normalcy or worrying about someone you love or yourself contracting the virus, isolation can lead to a lot of overthinking. In fact, daily COVID-19 related news doesn’t help this and causes people to panic reminding them about the intensity of the virus. They may also be bombarded by news, some of which is misinformation made to instil fear in the public which can lead to anxiety, fear, stress, depression, and emotional exhaustion.
In order to evaluate the psychological effects of COVID, a study was done on over 100 participants that have significant results. It was found that almost 30% of participants had symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What was also interesting, was the fact that the longer that people were isolated, the higher the occurrence f these symptoms. This shows how COVID has disturbed mental health and caused distress during these trying times. Additionally, more studies were carried out that showed that people in quarantine have developed symptoms of low mood, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Mental health has always been a taboo topic but is being discussed as people realize it a serious problem, making it less overlooked. Researchers are still learning about the biochemistry of depression and have identified genes that influence an individual's response to drug therapy and make them vulnerable to low moods. Hopefully, in the future, these will lead to the invention of more individualized treatment.
Bhandari, Smitha. “Causes of Depression: Genetics, Illness, Abuse, and More.” WebMD, WebMD, 18 Mar. 2019, www.webmd.com/depression/guide/causes-depression#1.
Holland, Valencia Higuera and Kimberly. “Everything You Want to Know About Depression.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 2 June 1984, www.healthline.com/health/depression.
Nasser, Sajida. “Mental Health Effects Since the Start of COVID-19.” Pharmacy Times, 2020, www.pharmacytimes.com/news/mental-health-effects-since-the-start-of-covid-19.
Publishing, Harvard Health. “What Causes Depression?” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression.
Xiong , Glen. “Why It's Important to Care for Your Mental Health.” Medium, Doctor On Demand, 5 Oct. 2018, blog.doctorondemand.com/why-its-important-to-care-for-your-mental-health-834c8670b889