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COVID-19 and Mental Health

written by Skye Kalil Written by Skye Kalil
Skye Kalil

Skye Kalil

Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.

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reviewed by Amy Kaplan, LCSW Reviewed by Amy Kaplan, LCSW
Amy Kaplan, LCSW

Amy Kaplan, LCSW

Amy Kaplan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, specializing in the treatment of depression, anxiety and trauma. Ms. Kaplan earned a BA with Distinction in Psychology from Penn State University and a Masters Degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach. Her extensive experience in the mental health field since 1997 includes inpatient and outpatient settings as a psychotherapy provider, clinical supervisor and mental health consultant. With the use evidenced-based treatment, Ms. Kaplan helps those she works with learn how to use their inner strengths and lead a more balanced life.

March 15, 2022 Read Time - 5 minutes

How Does COVID-19 Affect Our Mental Health?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our mental health dramatically. Changes like isolation, uncertainty, altered daily routines, financial pressures, and social isolation can have a big impact on mental health. You may be worried about catching COVID, how your job will be impacted, and what will happen down the line. 

You may be experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, and loneliness. But you are not alone. Now, 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, which is a significant increase compared to 2019,  when 1 in 10 adults reported these symptoms, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report.

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Mental and Psychological Effects of COVID-19

On top of the multitude of external second-hand pressures the pandemic is causing, there is evidence that getting the COVID-19 virus can increase the risk of mental health conditions. Simply having COVID-19 can increase the risk of mental health outcomes. 

A study published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2022 reported that: “The results show that even when compared to contemporaneous controls of people who did not have COVID-19, but were exposed to the same adverse forces of the pandemic – including economic, social, and other stressors – those with COVID-19 exhibited increased risk of mental health outcomes.” The study concluded that “Altogether, the findings suggest that people with COVID-19 are experiencing increased rates of mental health outcomes.”

What Are the Possible Mental Symptoms After Recovering From COVID-19?

After experiencing COVID, many people wonder; is depression a side effect of COVID-19? It is possible, as the most common possible mental symptoms after recovering from COVID-19 include:

A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry observed the neurological and psychiatric outcomes of COVID survivors after 6 months, and reported significant findings. Data in the study showed that “among 236,379 patients diagnosed with COVID-19, the estimated incidence of a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis in the following 6 months was 33.62%.”

The Impact of Long COVID on Mental Health

The impact of long COVID on mental health can be even more dramatic. The nature of long COVID can be a heavy mental burden, due to the virus still affecting your body, and having to deal with the mental instability of healing from a chronic illness.

The BMJ study goes on to note that “mental health disorders represent one part of the multifaceted nature of long covid which can affect nearly every organ system (including the brain, heart, and kidneys).” The evidence found shows that COVID “is not only a respiratory virus; it is a systemic virus that may provoke damage and clinical consequences in nearly every organ system – including mental health disorders and neurocognitive decline.”

The Impact of Social Isolation During COVID-19

Social isolation was one of the first strategies implemented while attempting to control the COVID virus. Those social distancing efforts include:

  • Remote working
  • Remote or online education
  • Cancellation of sporting, entertainment, and professional events
  • Closures of museums, parks, churches, and more

Humans are social creatures, and meant to interact with others, so what happens when we don’t? Many impacts of social isolation can manifest in ways that are harmful. Some of the most commonly observed effects of social isolation due to the pandemic were increases in:

  • Mental health concerns
  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence

According to a study published in January of 2021 observing the effects of social isolation on well-being and life satisfaction during the pandemic, “Perceived social isolation is related to numerous negative outcomes related to both physical and mental health.”

The study suggested that “perceived social isolation is a significant element of health-related quality of life during [a] pandemic . . . the experience of social isolation is associated with poor life satisfaction across domains, work-related stress, lower trust of institutions such as central government and business, perceived personal risk for COVID-19, and higher levels of use of substances as a coping strategy.”

The Effect of Working From Home During COVID-19

Another aspect of the pandemic that has affected mental health is working from home. While working at home, everything about our daily routine is different. Changing the space from which you used to relax into a space where you must be productive and complete work, is a big shift that can lead to some challenges. 

Asking people to change their homes into work zones can impact people in a variety of ways. While many people do enjoy working from home and have successfully made the transition, findings in the study, Impacts of Working From Home During COVID-19 Pandemic on Physical and Mental Well-Being of Office Workstation Users, showed that there potential negative impacts on physical and mental health. Some of the reported causes of these negative impacts were based on factors such as:

  • Physical exercise
  • Food intake
  • Communication with coworkers
  • Children at home
  • Distractions while working
  • Adjusted work hours
  • Workstation set-up
  • Satisfaction with workspace

The report stated that “workers reported a decline in overall physical and mental health status and an increased number of new physical and mental health issues.” The increase was substantial. The report’s data showed that:

  1. Around two-thirds of respondents reported having one or more new physical health issues
  2. Nearly three-fourths of respondents experienced at least one new mental health issue
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  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

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Talk to a Therapist Online About COVID-19 Concerns

Talking to a therapist online about COVID-19 concerns is a great way to express what you are feeling in a safe place. Therapy allows you to work through your feelings in a healthy way.

PlushCare can connect you with online therapists who are licensed, experienced, and ready to help. We provide therapists who will give you the private and secure emotional support that you need. PlushCare online therapists will listen to your concerns, work with you to address them, and give you coping tools.

It’s easy to set up a virtual appointment with any of our skilled therapists. To make an appointment with an online therapist, click here.


Read More About COVID-19 and Mental Health


Sources:

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Al-Aly Z. Mental health in people with covid-19 BMJ 2022; 376 :o415. Accessed March 3, 2022 at https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj.o415 

Kaiser Family Foundation. The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use. Accessed March 3, 2022 at https://www.kff.org/report-section/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use-issue-brief/ 

Clair, R., Gordon, M., Kroon, M. et al. The effects of social isolation on well-being and life satisfaction during pandemic. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 8, 28 (2021). Accessed March 3, 2022 at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-021-00710-3 

Xiao Y, Becerik-Gerber B, Lucas G, Roll SC. Impacts of Working From Home During COVID-19 Pandemic on Physical and Mental Well-Being of Office Workstation Users. J Occup Environ Med. 2021;63(3):181-190. Accessed March 3, 2022 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7934324/

Maxime Taquet, PhD, Prof John R Geddes, MD, Prof Masud Husain, FRCP, Sierra Luciano, BA, Prof Paul J Harrison, FRCPsych, 6-month neurological and psychiatric outcomes in 236 379 survivors of COVID-19: a retrospective cohort study using electronic health records, April 06, 2021. Accessed March 3, 2022 at https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(21)00084-5/fulltext

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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