Living through a pandemic is no easy feat. With so much happening around us, it’s just about impossible to not be affected in some way by COVID-19. While this stressful time is expected to take a toll on your mental health, there are a few signs that can indicate it may be time to seek help from a licensed mental health professional. In fact, it is fairly common to need additional support during times of great stress or uncertainty.
Depending on your unique circumstances, a psychologist or psychiatrist may be recommended and in some cases, both may be used in coordination with one another. A psychologist utilizes talk therapy to help you develop healthier thought patterns, while a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe medications to alleviate symptoms caused by mental health issues. Overall, both psychologists and psychiatrists help you manage your mental health in different ways.
Just as COVID-19 has specific symptoms that can indicate its presence, your body also produces certain symptoms to indicate a decline in your mental health. Therefore, if you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you should schedule a consultation with your local mental health professional:
Significant Changes in Appetite
As a result of either being home all the time or out working more as an essential employee, you have likely experienced some changes in your appetite and probably your diet as well. However, if you have noticed a significant change in your appetite, such as regularly overeating or barely eating at all, this could indicate that you could be experiencing depression or anxiety.
Loss of Enjoyment
While it may not be the most joyous time of your life right now, it is not a crime to experience moments of joy throughout the day. In fact, some people have expressed they have more time to do the things they love. However, if you are struggling to find enjoyment in things that usually make you happy, this is another indication that something isn’t right. If you find yourself unable to enjoy anything and just existing through the day, working with a psychologist or psychiatrist will help you to rediscover the joy in life.
During a time like this, it is expected that you may experience moments where things feel hopeless. A constant state of hopelessness, however, is a classic symptom of depression and anxiety. Because your brain tricks you into believing that everything is hopeless, it is highly recommended that you seek help to learn how to look at things differently.
Significant Changes in Sleep
Just like a major change in your appetite can signal depression or anxiety, significant changes in your sleep patterns are another key sign something is going on. It is recommended that adults get around 8 hours of sleep a night, give or take an hour or two. If you are suddenly getting way less or way more than this amount, it is likely that you are experiencing depression or anxiety. Generally, depression is associated with two much sleep, while anxiety is associated with not enough sleep. However, this is not always the case.
As you can see, there are a few key signs that can indicate COVID-19 is taking a toll on your mental health. This is nothing to be ashamed of, and you are not weak if you find yourself slipping into depression or constantly anxious. Even though times are tough, be mindful not to neglect your mental health. At NJ Family Psychiatry and Therapy, we are here for you when you need us, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if your mental health is hurting.
Dr. Miller is trained in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is also trained in Anesthesia and Pain Management. Because of her broad experience, Dr. Miller is uniquely qualified to treat psychological trauma, depression and anxiety that can occur as a result of injury or disability. For more information, schedule a consultation at NJ Family Psychiatry & Therapy.