The Psychological Impact of COVID-19: How Did Covid Affect Collective Mental Health?

The Psychological Impact of COVID-19: How Did Covid Affect Collective Mental Health?

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COVID-19 has had some positive and negative effects on the environment, but how has it affected mental health? And, did the virus affect mental health more positively or negatively?COVID-19 has had some positive and negative effects on the environment, but how has it affected mental health? And, did the virus affect mental health more positively or negatively?

Unemployment Crisis

First, let’s talk about unemployment. The National Bureau of Economic Research has declared US unemployment rates as one of the major economic downturns after the Great Depression. Due to strict stay-at-home orders, in response to the Coronavirus disease, according to the Congressional Research Service, the rate of unemployment in the US was 14.8% in April 2020. This unemployment spike resulted in many people being jobless and by extension, not having any way to earn money to satisfy their needs. However, for various socio-political reasons, by the end of December, this rate had declined to 6.7% in December 2020.              

According to the American Psychological Association, unemployment rates triggered widespread psychological distress, which is defined as “a form of worry” or “symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.” In addition, Policy Options magazine stated that the group most affected by the closure of workplaces, caused by the pandemic, was young women.

In Canada, the unemployment rates between February and April 2020 increased by 14.3% for males and 20.4 % for females. However, Canada announced several Unemployment Insurance Benefits to help people who got sick or lost their jobs due to covid.    In Canada, the unemployment rates between February and April 2020 increased by 14.3% for males and 20.4 % for females. However, Canada announced several Unemployment Insurance Benefits to help people who got sick or lost their jobs due to covid.

Effect on Sociality and Education

According to the World Economic Forum, the “COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever.” The pandemic formed major barriers to education and youth. Most educational institutions around the world had to quickly adapt to the new realities in order to reduce the transmission of the virus. To solve this problem, online (or hybrid) teaching was introduced, however, another obstacle came into fruition, this obstacle being an extension of poor politics and social inequality. Some students did not have access to digital devices or had poor internet, while some students did. In fact,

according to the World Economic Forum, nearly 25% of students from unprivileged backgrounds in the US did not have access to a computer for educational purposes. 

social-isolation-and-covid-19

Patricia Perez, an Associate Professor of International Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology shed light on another daunting factor about how COVID has affected the youth population around the world in writing, “young people like to make plans for the future, and it’s difficult to do that when they don’t know how long this new way of life will last.” Patricia Perez, an Associate Professor of International Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology shed light on another daunting factor about how COVID has affected the youth population around the world in writing, “young people like to make plans for the future, and it’s difficult to do that when they don’t know how long this new way of life will last.”                      

This new system of learning has made students lazy and unmotivated. There is no physical activity, no social contact, and therefore, no motivation, which teachers stimulated in classroom environments.            

As mentioned in the Daily Orange newspaper, lack of face-to-face interactions has been linked to anxiety and depression, since many people are only seeing others through digital screens.

Why The Curfews?

In response to the spread of COVID-19, curfews and lockdowns became the favored methods for controlling the spread of the disease. In an article published by Global Dev online blog, the authors ask a tough question: Should curfews and lockdowns cost us our mental health? Mental health might be both the cause and consequence of social and physical isolation.                

Observations were recorded before and after US state-wide lockdowns, and it was noted that the mental health of individuals living in states with strict stay-at-home orders deteriorated more than those living in states without such tough restrictions. As a result, in the U.S., symptoms of depression and anxiety rose to around forty percent during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to eleven percent in early 2019. The Mental Health Foundation tried to offer the suggestion to stay connected, eat healthily, keep active in order to not let the stay-at-home orders affect mental health… Easier said than done?more than those living in states without such tough restrictions. As a result, in the U.S., symptoms of depression and anxiety rose to around forty percent during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to eleven percent in early 2019. The Mental Health Foundation tried to offer the suggestion to stay connected, eat healthily, keep active in order to not let the stay-at-home orders affect mental health… Easier said than done?

Mental State

Although it is true that depression, anxiety, and suicide were present before COVID-19, these mental illnesses have seen a dramatic increase since the start of the pandemic. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) conducted a survey on adults aged eighteen years or more across the United States in 2020, and the results showed that forty-point-nine percent of individuals surveyed displayed at least one mental or behavioral health condition, and around thirty-point-nine reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.

As a result, the CDC published a Help Guide. The guide introduced some coping mechanisms to help reduce the severity of these illnesses. The guide included things such as eating healthy, the use of reminders to keep yourself on track, and practicing some kind of activity such as breathing exercises.               

This deadly virus has affected all of our lives in one or another. Some people have lost jobs and suffered from depression, but we all need not lose hope because we will overcome this battle together. Remember that there are online workshops provided to overcome stress as well as government resources to help people maintain their daily life.

Schizophrenia: Loss of Touch With Reality

Schizophrenia: Loss of Touch With Reality

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Imagine you are walking in a crowded street. Now, stop for a moment and take a look at the world around you, the buildings, the people passing by, the voices you hear. How real are they? Is it possible you are hearing things or seeing things that aren’t actually real? Well, for some people with schizophrenia this is possible.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder and probably one of the most complex points that a human brain can reach. It is associated with changes in the structure and functioning patterns of a number of key brain systems, including the prefrontal, medial and temporal lobe regions.

According to Katherine H. Karlsgodt, a psych researcher at UCLA, patients diagnosed with this disorder lose touch with reality and usually don’t even realize the fact that they have a mental illness.

Symptoms of the disorder are mainly categorized into three major areas: positive, negative, and cognitive. Positive symptoms can consist of delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behavior, and impaired cognitive ability. Negative symptoms are characterized by a loss or deficit, such as the removal of normal processes in the brain. Lastly, examples of cognitive symptoms include impairments in attention and working memory. However, different patients might experience different symptoms.

What are delusions? They are fixed and false beliefs for which there is no evidence. Similarly, hallucinations are false sensory experiences. People experiencing these symptoms might see images or hear voices that aren’t actually real, which has the potential to unfortunately escalate to committing or attempting suicide.

These images and voices are mostly negative and commanding. The early onset of the disorder, along with its chronic periods, disables most people who suffer from it as well as the people in close contact with them. As the patients experience mood shifts, emotional isolation, and withdrawal from social interaction, it may gradually prevent them from maintaining things like holding a regular job, study or engage in normal daily activities. This disability is ultimately a result of both the negative and cognitive symptoms.

Causes of schizophrenia

According to an article published in the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Journal, written by Krishna R. Patel, although the precise cause of schizophrenia is still unknown, several studies have shown that a combination of genetics and environment contributes to the development of the disorder.

The fact that genetics play an important role in the development of schizophrenia was proven through a study that has shown that the risk of illness is approximately 10% for a first-degree relative and 3% for a second-degree relative. This result is further supported by findings that siblings with schizophrenia often experience an onset of the illness around the same age.

Environmental influences could also stimulate the development of schizophrenia, especially in individuals who are already vulnerable to the disorder. Childhood trauma(s), being a visible minority, living in an urban area, and social isolation are examples of environmental stressors linked to this disorder.

An overview of statistics for schizophrenia

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), approximately 1.1% of the world’s population, over the age of 18, suffers from schizophrenia, which means approximately 20 million people worldwide are affected by it.

This mental disorder also commonly starts earlier among men. As mentioned in an article published by the public health department, of the Government of Canada, national data (2016-2017) shows that 1 out of every 100 Canadians aged 10+ were living with diagnosed schizophrenia. 56% were men and 44% were women.
A research study was done by Thomas J Craig, Qing Ye, and Evelyn J Brometin in 2006 shows that approximately 1.7% of all patients with schizophrenia die from suicide. In addition, another research done by Michael R. Phillips, published in The Lancet Journal in 2004, indicates that 10.1% of all people who have committed suicide had schizophrenia, which indicates how common suicidal thoughts and behavior are among people with this disorder.

Schizophrenia genes favored by evolution

Research actually reveals that genes linked to this disorder may also provide developmental advantages and therefore, have been favored by natural selection. 76 DNA sequences linked to schizophrenia were examined by researcher Bernard Crespi of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada. As a result, out of the 76 genes studied, 28 showed evidence of being favored by natural selection.

A psychiatric research study conducted by Daniel Nettle and Helen Clegg suggests that people with schizophrenia could be more creative or imaginative than the general population, which increases the possibility of schizophrenia genes helping carriers to solve survival problems or attracting a mate.

Control and Cognitive Redirection Activities

Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that unfortunately targets a large number of people, mostly in their twenties, and about half of the people who suffer from it, commit suicide or struggle with it daily. However, most people with schizophrenia are known to have a very strong imagination and therefore, tend to be more creative as a result. It is very important for the patients and their family members to be optimistic and seek help from a mental health professional in order to control the disorder. Lastly, keep in mind that anything, no matter how awful, can have a bright side as well.

Breaking The Silence: Destigmatizing Medical Conditions

Breaking The Silence: Destigmatizing Medical Conditions

About This Series

Living with a chronic or life-threatening illness brings a whole host of challenges. Oftentimes, these challenges can be invisible. This makes it harder for others to be compassionate and helpful. People who experience medical issues can feel like their life is out of their control, which can make it really difficult for them to reach out for help.

The goal of this series was to raise awareness about medical conditions through storytelling and thorough information.

Knowledge is power. Hearing and understanding people’s experiences can help you be better equipped to respond the next time you encounter someone with a medical condition.

It will hopefully make you more aware and sensitive towards others struggling. This can even be in the simplest form of avoiding the generalization and misuse of medical conditions. Doing so diminishes undermines and devalues what individuals with those conditions experience. For example, using expressions like you’re retarded, I’m depressed, I’m so OCD can be hurtful to those who have medical retardation, depression or OCD.

According to the CDC, 795,000 people have a stroke every year in the USA alone. Just about every 40 seconds, someone in the States has a stroke and someone dies of a stroke every 4 minutes. It is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. Despite its prevalence, roughly 38% of bystanders knew all of the major symptoms of a stroke. Strokes require immediate care. Some strokes may be treated exclusively within the first 3 hours from when the symptoms start.

Patients who receive treatment are more likely to either fully recover or live with less disability than those who don’t. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke can save lives.

Breaking The Silence: Hemorrhagic Stroke

Did a Full 180

I was working at a gym as a receptionist. I talked to two clients and explained our memberships to them when they started tilting their heads and looking at me strangely. I was trying to figure out why they were doing that.

I started realizing that when I was talking, it sounded like I was eating my words. I asked them if it was okay with them if I switched to French and they agreed. My French started okay and then I started eating my words in French too. My words were not coming out properly. They couldn’t understand me so they started giggling a little bit. They told me that it was okay and that they would come back another day.

I turn to my computer and I’m staring at it. I’m starting to panic because I was stuttering. I asked one of my friends, who was working out, to come and see me. He asked me to repeat some numbers with him to try to get the hang of my speech back. After a few minutes, it came back a bit. He had thought that maybe it was caused by stress because I had two exams the next day (which I hadn’t studied for.)

He went to continue working out and I went back to my desk to continue working. I looked at the screen and I realized that, although I was smashing down on the keys, nothing was typing. I thought it was maybe the computer that was broken. I went to go grab my phone but it just slipped right out of my hand. I picked my phone with my left hand, I tried to open it with my finger-ID but it wasn’t working. Essentially, my hand wasn’t working and went completely numb. I used my other hand to type into the search bar “why can’t I feel my hand?” I started panicking because I couldn’t understand what I was reading and I couldn’t feel my hand.

As this is happening, I slowly started falling off the chair. I hit the ground and my friend came running. When he asked me what I was doing on the ground, I just started crying. This part is a blur. I don’t remember falling or getting back on the chair. He later told me that he was trying to get my attention. He started asking me simple questions to try to help ground me. I started lisping. My lips started tingling. I was producing saliva and drooling but I couldn’t swallow it. I tried to eat but couldn’t lift my fork.

Closing time came around and I tried to clean up by putting the weights away. I was incapable of doing so. My friend helped me out a bit and then drove me home. I get home and go to my mother. I looked at her and said I don’t feel well. I was talking funny but she started laughing because she thought I was just joking around.

It’s Not All in My Head

The next day, my entire arm was numb. My mom called me and it felt like my face was being pulled in two different directions. My mom’s boyfriend (at the time) time) picked me up and drove me to the ER. They were looking at me like I was crazy because everything returned back to normal. It was as if nothing happened. The nurse told me that they were probably going to send me home because they couldn’t find anything. Then, someone working at the hospital who had no medical training decided that they would try to get me a CT scan just to be safe. We get the CT done.

The nurse came over to me and told me that the blood test results came back. My numbers were a little wonky but they weren’t sure why. Then, the resident came to see me and asked me to come into a conference room. He told me that I had a minor brain bleed on the top left corner. I was told that they would give me some anti-seizure medications and that it shouldn’t happen again. The next minute, the main neurosurgeon came running into the room and told me that I had a massive brain bleed.
They had me do an MRI. They couldn’t see anything because of the amount of blood there. They didn’t know what was happening or why it was happening. They only knew that I had a massive bump in that region because of the CT scan I took earlier. They said it was a cyst.

On the Tip of My Tongue

I was hospitalized for about two weeks. In that time period, I had unbearable headaches. I couldn’t walk. I had another episode in the hospital where my right side went numb again. On one of the first few days I was there, they came in and told me that they were going to keep me in the hospital. They were trying to wait and see if my brain would somehow reabsorb the blood. They told me that I would be taking a second MRI in a week’s time. It was an important region of my brain and they were trying to avoid surgery at all costs.

The first day I was hospitalized was the scariest because I was having memory lapses. I lost my French and a lot of my English too. The only language I could remember was my native language, which I only spoke as a child. My English came back a few days after and my French only returned after a month’s worth of speech therapy. The resident printed out a list of my Facebook friends. She would choose random people and ask me who they were, where we first met, and how I knew them. I had friends from elementary school whom I didn’t recognize. It was as if someone had taken white-out and erased parts of my life. I would know that I was being asked questions. I was supposed to know the answers too but then would forget that they had asked me a question altogether. That’s how bad my memory was. With time, my memory came back.
For the first week, I couldn’t get out of bed without a walker. I needed help using the bathroom. Not being able to move was also really scary. I was being seen by a physiotherapist to try to help me to regain my strength.

Slow & Steady

Luckily for me, the bleeding started going down. The process was very hard and slow. My doctor had asked me if I had done any strenuous sports or fallen down the stairs. I told him that I was in school and during that two-week period prior to this incident, I had stopped all exercise to focus on my exams. He told me that it looked like I was hit in the head by a baseball bat, but without a fracture. After the week passed, they did another MRI. As the bleeding had started going down, they were going to let me go home on the condition that I wouldn’t do anything.

It was really hard. I would look at my phone and feel like puking. Too much light or noise would bother me. I started going to a rehabilitation center. They were helping me organize and schedule my life. They would give me tasks to test my re-organizational skills and my memory. They made me play word games to try to reboot my language skills. I was in rehab for eight or nine months. During this time, I had to drop school, quit work, and stop going to the gym. This all took a really big toll on my self-esteem.

Towards the end of rehab, I enrolled back in college, but I started the semester late; it was all really overwhelming. I was also a little ashamed of the fact that I was in rehab. I didn’t tell anyone to avoid questions and assumptions people would make about me. I would try to study but couldn’t focus and I couldn’t play video games, which really got me down.

I started slowly going back to the gym, with my doctor’s permission. It was important for me to start prioritizing my mental health. He told me my physical health would improve as a result. I wasn’t allowed to lift weights that were too heavy and I definitely couldn’t push myself.

Ran Myself Ragged

A year later, my doctor asked me if I was stressed at the time. I replied affirmatively because I was working three jobs, in school, working out every day, trying to maintain a romantic relationship and a social life. I was trying to manage everything and I wasn’t sleeping enough. He told me that my level of stress may have been so high that it caused a cyst I had in my brain to rupture. The bleeding was considered a hemorrhage. The hemorrhage covered up areas of my brain causing me to have seizures. The pain of the cyst rupturing had caused my nervous system to shut down and glitch. I had symptoms of a stroke because of everything going on.

I had no long-term side effects to all this. Thank goodness the cyst was not cancerous. I additionally have another cyst in the back of my head which was non-cancerous as well. They were probably there from birth and I must have either done something to rupture them or it ruptured because of the high levels of stress. My doctor told me that if there was no more blood, I wouldn’t need to see him anymore.

Left Me on Read

People were upset at me that I was no longer talking to them, nor texting or calling. I tried to explain to these friends what I was going through but they just couldn’t understand. I also didn’t want to share what was going on in my life, which really bothered them. They made my incident about themselves. My immediate family, however, was very supportive. My mom was my caregiver so she was dealing with my appointments and giving me medications. It was pretty hard on her.

I’m Better on the Other Side

This whole incident made me a lot more studious. I learned how to better balance my life more efficiently. I started becoming more in tune with my health and I started becoming more appreciative of what I had. It made me more mature because I realized how close I could’ve come to death. I’m not scared of dying but I am scared of not experiencing everything I wanted to experience and not spending enough time with my family. If I were to die tomorrow, damn it, I spent all of my time in school.

The Anxiety Situation: Why Is Our Society So Anxious?

The Anxiety Situation: Why Is Our Society So Anxious?

Why do I feel distressed? Why is it that I’m constantly worried about situations that normally don’t bother me? Am I projecting the right image?”

If you have ever asked yourself these questions, you are not the only one. As per statistics, the level of anxiety has become an epidemic in our society in the past few decades. 

THE BRAVE NEW WORLD

Our way of life has changed dramatically in recent years and the pace at which we must live has picked up so fast that our abilities to adapt can no longer keep up. Sometimes it feels like we are all living our lives in a fast-forwarded TV show! We are always rushing through the moments of our lives toward an unknown; never taking a pause, out of fear of being left out. We are living in the “brave new world,” where news is more easily broadcast and where information equals money and intelligence equals success. Not only can this be seen in a wide demographic, but also, on an individual level. We have to know, we want to know, everything, all at once.

SOCIAL VULNERABILITY

I used to believe that this feeling of social vulnerable and isolation was unique to celebrities and people of power. However, now this vulnerability has become part of society at-large. We have entered an age where we enjoy being seen; we are all, in some way, content producers and the guardians of our own personal brand! We see ourselves through the lens of a camera and we experience the world through the frame of an app. We all desperately aim for the perfect image of ourselves and we measure this perfection by the number of likes and followers we get. However, how does this need for acceptance affect the perception of ourselves? 

THE NEW YORKER GOT IT RIGHT

There was a very interesting cartoon in the New Yorker published on November 9, 2017, in which a woman just finished a marathon in a forest and the caption reads, “If you run a marathon in a forest, but there’s no one around to social media about it, did you really run a marathon?” 

Farley Katz, the creator of the cartoon, uses comedy to pose a very important question about the state of our world today in which people do not feel self-achievement unless they know that others have seen it. 

MAMMON

I have always believed that Greek mythology has an interesting perspective about looking at world and analyzing human nature through a set of beautifully crafted stories. Mammon, coming from Greek roots, is the term used to represent “money” and material wealth, but more importantly, it is associated with the greed-driven pursuit to “gain.” Here, I draw on a contemporary parallel to gain a following. 

LOOK AT YOUR WATCH FROM TIME TO TIME

We are humans and we are fundamentally limited by time. Therefore, it is important to look at our watch from time-to-time. We have to remember to pause and reset. Remember to ask yourself: do you know what your goals are in life? And, are they going to serve your happiness?

Broken Beauty

Broken Beauty

A poem by Esty Rosenfeld

She once perceived herself as a beauty

She used to play around and be drawn by the  endlessness of the ocean 

She waited there for her turn to leave the pier for her cue to leave the queue 

She wished to finally be cultivated enough to break free

But culture has shackled her hulk to the port, to the point of no return because she’s never actually left, never actually broken free 

And even if she did, she’s never managed to completely draw away, complete withdraw

like the way the high tides repeatedly slap against the face of the shore 

like the way the high tides can’t stop itself from and will always slap against the face of shore 

like the way the high tides will never cease to slap against the face of shore 

Like

Like when she wakes up in the morning and tries on a heaping pile of clothes till she finds one that finely hides her broadened view of herself

Like the way she looks in the mirror pinching and squeezing herself 

like a rag being wrung out

Like how she wastes her time trying to control her tone

Inhales deeply and grasps her waist all awhile gasping for air like the way the ocean peels back but only to then come crashing forward

She contorts her contoured face and ducks her cheeks to see if it’s hollowness is still as sunken as the titanic

She keeps seeing her bloated heart trying to leap out of her chest but it’s fat outweighs and drowns the muscle

And she hears her mind being malnourished by the heavy voices of her past

Telling her she does not have the right outlook

does not have the right frame of being 

That outlook is the thin version of outfits and good looks and they only mean her frame isn’t bare, 

That she isn’t mindful of what she’s consuming and she really isn’t

She isn’t mindful of what’s consuming her

They encourage her to tread and tow the fine line barefoot because a step with too much matter to it would not be refined, would not fall out of the narrow mould they have created for her

She cannot put her foot down because there’s something between her bones and the floor, because the floor of the ocean seems too far away

She knows her sound will be absorbed by the endlessness of the oceans that surround her

And they are just the tip of the iceberg that hit her 

She’s been hit hard because beneath the surface is the scattered fragments of her vast confidence of a bygone era

She’s drowning in the largesse of the sea 

Waving elegantly and slightly for help to all those who pass her by

But at least she is a mere skeleton of what she used to be

At least she is now perceived as a beauty

But she, she no longer knows how to look at herself and see her beauty

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