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Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Fuel a Wave of Addiction?

Will the COVID-19 pandemic fuel a wave of addiction? The 2020 pandemic is still a significant problem throughout the globe — especially here in the U.S. In addition to the physical issues associated with the virus, more research surfaces about the pandemic’s lasting mental health effects.

Unfortunately, many predict that mental health professionals won’t keep up with the number of people who need help with depression and anxiety due to this pandemic.

That means more people will undoubtedly turn to other coping mechanisms. As a result, we will likely see a wave of addiction in the coming months and even years.

Since February 2020, doctors and ER units nationwide have already seen an explosion in alcohol-related issues. Sales of alcohol have also consistently gone up throughout the pandemic.

Knowing this, how do we approach this wave of addiction?

The Mental Health Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 has caused plenty of more issues than merely physical illnesses. People who once dealt with addiction are at a greater risk of relapsing. Those who feel as though they don’t have anywhere else to turn may look at alcohol or harder drugs like opioids for the first time.

What aspects of the pandemic are contributing to these mental health issues?

The biggest one, undoubtedly, is loneliness. Even if you consider yourself to be an introverted person, people are social, by nature. Feeling completely isolated and disconnected from others can make you feel alone, without any support. Studies show the negative impact of loneliness lasts for years. It can even impact your physical health.

Of course, it’s impossible to ignore the uncertainties of this entire pandemic. People have lost jobs, children run risks going to school, and even though places have started re-opening, many states still have mask mandates.

There is still so much anxiety surrounding COVID-19, and it only builds up with the upcoming (and volatile) presidential election. Feelings of anxiety combined with feelings of loneliness, are often a recipe for disaster.

How People Cope on Their Own

Because depression and anxiety are so prevalent, there are a variety of ways to deal with them. Some people take medication; others seek therapy. Sadly, far too many people find harmful ways of coping, including drug and alcohol use.

Pseudo Comfort

Since January of this year, for example, Texas has seen a massive rise in both alcohol and guns/ammo sales — which is a horrible combination. But, people are looking for ways to numb whatever worries they may be feeling. That goes far beyond alcohol into harder drugs. When you learn more about opiate addiction and the brain, you find that it can lead to euphoria feelings. Who wouldn’t be looking for that right now?

Unfortunately, the effects of drugs and alcohol don’t last, so people need more and more to get by.

Substance Abuse

Will the COVID-19 pandemic fuel a wave of addiction? Absolutely. But, there is hope for those feeling anxiety from the effects of this pandemic.

If you are feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, or overwhelmed, you are certainly not alone. Still, you also don’t need to turn to a substance that will only compound the issues.

Even if you can only reach out to someone digitally, do whatever it takes to make connections and find your support system. The times are still uncertain. Together we will see it through, and you don’t have to depend on substances to feel better about the state of the world.

Feel free to contact me if you’re struggling to get through this pandemic or visit my page on opiate addiction and the brainto learn more about how I can help. Together, we can work on more effective ways to work through your anxiety so you can manage your symptoms daily.

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Pandemic Drinking: How to Tell If It’s Too Much

There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health. This can be seen in part in the increase in “pandemic drinking” across much of the nation. Simply put, long periods of social isolation aren’t good for anyone. While they have been necessary to keep people safe and healthy, the effects of this pandemic will continue to create mental and physical health issues worldwide.

As a result, people will look for different ways to cope. If pandemic drinking has become a norm for you, you might want to start considering that it’s your coping mechanism.

But, when is pandemic drinking too much? If you’re “stuck” at home, what’s the harm in having a drink or two? Keep in mind; there is a difference between drinking casually and using alcohol to numb your depression or anxiety.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at pandemic drinking and how to tell if it’s become a problem.

You’re Drinking More Than Intended

Again, there’s nothing wrong with having a drink or two in the comfort of your own home. If that is your initial intention, and you continue to drink, it could be a sign of something more serious.

Maybe you have even noticed that you’re drinking more than you want. Many people who struggle with alcohol know they’re drinking too much and mean to stop. Unfortunately, they feel like they can’t because they’ve become too dependent on daily drinking.

When it comes to pandemic drinking, you might have more than you intend to “forget” about what’s going on. But, that’s not a healthy way to cope with the world’s current uncertainties.

It’s Causing Trouble With Family or Friends

This pandemic has made it difficult to interact with those closest to us. Now that things are slowly starting to reopen, and we adjust to a “new” normal, it should be easier to see how drinking impacts your relationships.

If alcohol is causing trouble in your relationships, and you continue to drink it, you might be struggling with abuse or addiction. You also might find yourself cutting back on things you once thought were important or that you enjoyed.

If you feel like your family or friends are worried about you, you might even start ignoring them or withdrawing from them. None of these behaviors are normal for casual drinking.

You Continue to Drink Even Though It Makes You Feel Bad

One of the significant signs of a drinking problem is drinking, even if you feel the adverse effects. Alcohol can make you feel depressed, anxious, and physically sick. It can also contribute to long-term health conditions that could cause significant issues for years to come. If you don’t feel good after drinking a lot, but you continue to do it anyway, it’s essential to ask yourself why.

Alternatively, suppose you have tried to go more extended periods without drinking, and you feel withdrawal symptoms like insomnia or nausea. In that case, it’s usually a sign that you’re used to having too much alcohol.

Unfortunately, when you become dependent on alcohol, you might find that you need to drink more than you once did. It takes increasingly more to feel the same kind of “buzz” that you did at first. That leads to addictive behaviors, and it could be a dangerous path.

If any of these signs and symptoms sound like what you’re going through, you’re not alone. However, your dependency on alcohol doesn’t have to get worse. You can get your life back on track as this pandemic eventually fades away.

Feel free to contact me for more information or to set up an appointment. Also, please visit my page on alcohol addiction counseling to learn more and the additional resources page to help you get started if you need more information.

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COVID-19: Understanding the Risk of Burnout for Medical Personnel

While everyone has been impacted in some way by the pandemic, we can probably all agree that healthcare workers and medical personnel have been at the front lines of this virus from the beginning. In addressing the many challenges of COVID-19: understanding the risk of burnout for medical personnel is so important. And this will likely be the case for many months to come.

With millions of cases across the globe, we have come to depend on medical personnel to help the sick, keep us informed, and keep us educated, all while putting themselves at risk of catching the virus, too.

Across the country, healthcare workers have been working longer, more stressful shifts. You’ve probably seen photos or videos of the marks on their faces from having to wear masks for so long. What we can’t see are the emotional effects this pandemic has caused.

Burnout for medical personnel is a real thing and could happen to anyone in the healthcare field thanks to these stressful, uncertain times.

Many of us wonder, how can the risk of burnout for medical personnel be reduced? What can healthcare workers do to keep themselves not just physically safe, but emotionally and mentally healthy, too?

What Are the Risks?

A recent survey of over 1,000 healthcare workers from 34 hospitals in China found that over 50% were experiencing depression, while 44.6% were experiencing anxiety. Perhaps the most staggering statistic is that over 71% of healthcare workers surveyed said they were feeling distressed.

In the U.S., we haven’t had enough time or research performed yet to determine how this pandemic has affected our medical personnel fully. However, as most of the country has been under some form of “shelter-at-home” order for more than 50 days, we can assume that those 50+ days have all been full of stress and exhaustion for our healthcare workers.

It’s vital to understand that there are many reasons why medical personnel could be experiencing burnout right now, including:

  • Longer working hours
  • Seeing an alarming number of patients not recover
  • Not allowing family or friends to visit the sick
  • Worrying about their own health and safety

What Can Be Done to Reduce the Risk of Burnout for Medical Personnel?

When you’re a frontline healthcare worker, it’s hard to simply “take the day off.” Medical personnel is often viewed as heroes and for a good reason. Most of them are eager to get to work helping others and making major strides to combat this virus (and other illnesses along the way!).

If you’re a medical professional or know someone who is, taking care of yourself during these uncertain times is more important than ever. Though you might not get to take time off that you want or deserve, there are other things you can do to reduce the risk of burnout.

Establish a Self-Care Routine

Starting with simple self-care can make a big difference. Find moments throughout the day to practice mindfulness, or take a few calming, deep breaths to relax. Get outside as often as possible when you have a break. Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of being in nature each day can boost your energy and reduce stress levels.

Find a Listening Ear

Most importantly, find someone to talk to.

Having a support group around you during these times can help. It allows you to express your concerns and even “vent” about what you’re going through.

Seek Professional Support

If you don’t want to talk to family or friends, you might benefit from critical incident stress counseling. If there is one thing we’ve all learned from this pandemic, it’s that we need to work together to get through it. Healthcare professionals aren’t immune to that, either.

 

If you’re in the healthcare field and feel stress pulling on you, feel free to contact me for more information — or to talk. Your mental and emotional health can be (and should be) a priority.

I offer online therapy, so please reach out to me today or visit my page on critical incident stress counseling to learn more about how I can help.

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Is It All Hype? How to Manage Anxiety from the News

It’s nearly impossible to avoid the steady news stream surrounding the coronavirus pandemic that has swept over the world. So how do we manage anxiety from a global crisis?

Whether you always hear new data or statistics or you’re buying into what “news” is being posted on social media, it’s easy to feel anxious. You might also be scared about the situation, in general, or even wonder if it’s all hype.

This virus isn’t the first illness or other major world event to cause anxiety among many of us. And, it won’t be the last. Still, what can you do to manage anxiety and feel less fearful about what’s going on around you?

Take a Break

Perhaps you think the news is blown out of proportion. Or maybe you don’t believe everything you read or see on television. Nevertheless, an excellent way to manage anxiety over it is to step away from the news for a while.

Closeout of your social media accounts, turn off the television, and stay away from your phone. No, it’s not always fair that you have to completely “shut down” for a while to avoid the news. But, sometimes it’s the best option.

It’s often the constant, sustained stories of hopelessness and fear from the news that can continue to trigger your anxiety. By taking breaks throughout the day and focusing on something else, you can manage those triggers. As a result, you can handle your symptoms better.

Try spending your time doing things that will not only distract you, but that can reduce stress. Try reading, exercising, or even meditating. These activities can help you to feel more mindful and less anxious.

Focus on What You Can Control — Not What You Can’t

When you’re dealing with anxiety, it’s not uncommon to feel as though your world is spinning out of control. If you want to manage anxiety, it’s essential to recognize that there will always be things out of your control, such as losing a loved one to this virus. But, there are things you can control, like going to counseling for loss.

You can’t control how many people catch the virus. You can’t control what happens to those who do. What you can control is how you respond to what the news is saying.

You choose what to believe, and you decide how to act on it. When you put yourself in control of those things, you’re giving yourself more power and taking away the authority of your anxious thoughts.

Find the Moments of Positive News

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when scary statistics and predictions continuously bombard you. While you don’t necessarily need to go looking for “happy news,” pay attention to the positive pieces that pop up on the air.

This pandemic, for example, has shown great moments of humanity. People are helping others. Workers are donating their time. Restaurants are giving food to children who are out of school. Younger people are checking in on seniors.

There are bright moments, even in negative stories. So, don’t focus solely on the doom and gloom of the current situation (or any news story). You don’t need to ignore the negative things to find and appreciate the positive news.

Struggling with Headline Anxiety

If you’re trying to manage anxiety amidst the news of the coronavirus or other happenings in the world, you’re not alone.

These are uncertain times. It’s crucial to make your mental health a priority. Unfortunately, that isn’t always easy to do when you’re stuck at home, surrounded by the news all day, every day.

If you’re having trouble managing your anxiety, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Anxiety typically doesn’t go away on its own. Thankfully, you don’t have to manage it alone. Feel free to contact me for more information about working through your anxiety or visit my page on counseling for loss to learn more about how I can help.