PANDEMIC DEPRESSION & ANXIETY
198 537 cases in the US, 20 252 in the UK, and in 3 105 South Africa as of 20th November.
The numbers are climbing, and everyone is freaking out except for the people who are too exhausted to freak out. Is pandemic fatigue setting in after nearly a year of lockdowns around the world?
PEOPLE ARE GETTING SICK OF COVID-19
In the last few weeks, several countries have seen a rise in pandemic fatigue among their citizens. After months of lockdown, disruptions to everyday life, and with no end in sight for the coronavirus epidemic, many people say they are simply exhausted by the global crisis.
Constantly shifting measures have led to uncertainty about how people should and should not act, which was one of the reasons that people avoided following all the guidelines.
And while physical distancing and wearing a mask are still obligatory in public areas in most countries around the world, many people either do not cover their faces or do so inefficiently.
WHAT IS PANDEMIC FATIGUE?
Pandemic fatigue happens because people are exhausted and frustrated with the long-term protective measures put into place, such as face-coverings and physical distancing as all these measures do not seem as effective as governments ensure us.
A great driver of coronavirus fatigue is the stress of the unknown that is causing lots of issues for people everywhere.
It has been tiring to keep up the effort. People are fed up with wearing masks, not seeing family and friends, and not being able to get on a plane and go somewhere. Separation from loved ones who we would usually turn to in times of stress can make things worse than they already are.
Pandemic fatigue is something that we do not even know what to do with, so the natural response may be to give up and wait for the end of the crisis.
HOW BAD IS IT REALLY?
While there have been all sorts of stressful events that people have undergone, the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most unusual and traumatic occurrences ever because it is global, unpredictable in terms of its events, which leaves us depleted in our capacity to cope.
Weeks of lockdown and tight controls have caused a lot of emotional challenges, even for people who have not developed any mental health issues throughout that period.
This emotional overwhelm has contributed to serious mental health problems, along with worsening symptoms of substance abuse, gender-based violence, corruption, divorce, and suicide.
Health experts have seen a massive rise in the demand for their services because of the pandemic impacting people’s mental health, which is estimated to be at least a 20% increase.
PANDEMIC FATIGUE SIGNS
If you are tired of worrying about COVID-19, you’re most likely experiencing pandemic fatigues, and you’re not alone with it. The most common pandemic fatigue symptoms include:
- Experiencing huge stress, anxiety, and nightmares
- Not as diligent about wearing a mask and washing your hands as you used to be
- You do not care as much about social distancing precautions and minimize the seriousness of COVID-19
- You are feeling hopeless about the future and depressed
- You find yourself suppressing your emotions and consuming too much food, cigarettes or alcohol
- Constantly in an exceptionally low mood and don’t engage with things that you used to find enjoyable
- Become unpredictable due to irregular mood swings
- Discombobulated and angry
Pandemic fatigue is very real, and it is draining our sanity month after month.
HOW TO COPE WITH PANDEMIC FATIGUE?
Finding effective ways and successful strategies that will be helpful to tackle pandemic fatigue is becoming more of a challenge as the epidemic continues with no end in sight. You can take these steps to be more in control:
- Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep and maintain a healthy diet.
- Admit and accept that you are suffering from negative feelings and focus your mind on things you can do to feel better. Share your feelings with those that will listen!
- Limit your news intake. Too much news can unnecessarily overload you with negativity.
- Do not be too hard on yourself. Give yourself a self-tolerance that you understand that you can’t meet every need that comes at you, you can’t deal with every problem, and it isn’t necessarily the end of the world!
- Lower your stress by incorporating exercise into your daily routine.
- Avoid self-medicating and numbing yourself with alcohol and drugs.
Taking care of your wellbeing in current times is extremely important because the pandemic is going to be around for the foreseeable future.
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process