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The Pandemic and its Impact on Mental Health

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March 18, 2021

To say the mental health of many Americans has been negatively impacted by the 2020 pandemic is an understatement. Anxiety, stress, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), addictions to drugs or alcohol, among other mental health conditions, may have risen to the surface for those individuals who already were struggling with these conditions before COVID. The invisible virus may have only exacerbated these issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have clearly specified the following guidelines over the last year, modifying it slightly to accommodate the recently vaccinated population:

  • Stay six feet apart in public from individuals/families that are not in the same household.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Wear a mask.
  • And when the COVID cases and hospitalizations were spiking, we were advised to shelter in place (except for essential errands) to minimize contracting the virus.

Although these guidelines have proven to significantly decrease the spread of COVID, they have impacted those struggling with mental conditions in other ways. For example, social isolation can negatively impact an individual who is battling with a substance use disorder (SUD).

Avoiding people through social distancing is helpful to slow the spread of COVID, but not so helpful with an SUD or with a co-occurring mental health condition like depression. These individuals need to be around supportive people for their mental well-being. The positive side is that there have been alternative options through technology that have allowed people to connect without going against guidelines.

The anxiety and stress of individuals in general, or even those who are confronted with an obsessive-compulsive disorder over germs, may find the threat of an airborne virus that also seems to contaminate surfaces, as something to realistically be afraid of.

The fact that drinking alcoholic beverages has increased since the beginning of the pandemic says a lot about just how individuals are working through this pandemic.

Reflection and Vaccinations

So who are we now that we have battled this as a nation… as a world… and knowing that we are still in the fight?

It’s been a challenging year. Some have handled it with a lot of grace, as a time to reflect and regroup. Others have used it as an opportunity to reinvent themselves. While some individuals truly struggled with substance or alcohol abuse, job loss, food insecurity, or even OCD, anxiety and/or depression.

With the vaccinations underway (Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson), there does seem to be some light at the end of a very dark and long tunnel.

At American Addiction Centers (AAC), a nationwide leader in addiction treatment, we provide treatment with professional staff and licensed physicians, even during the pandemic, and all within a safe environment. If you’re struggling with a substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder, and co-occurring conditions, please reach out to get the help you need.

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