Pandemic to blame for increased depression and anxiety, health professional says
FARMINGTON – Despite the state reopening after COVID-19 shutdowns, medical providers remain concerned about the mental health issues that have resulted from the isolation and stress of the pandemic.
Emily Epstein, behavioral health nurse practitioner from San Juan Health Partners, who has worked at the hospital for exactly one year, said the COVID pandemic has affected mental health not only locally, but globally. in more than one way.
âThe virus has had an impact on our stress levels, our ties to our community, our ability to obtain necessary care and resources, the loss of our loved ones, fear of contracting the virus, unemployment as well as misinformation and the polarized politics surrounding the pandemic and how to handle it, âEpstein said. âPeople feel isolated, without their usual sense of community. With fewer reasons to leave home, we are seeing an increase in intimate partner violence, substance abuse, isolation, depression and agoraphobia. “
In addition to those listed, the virus itself could have a direct negative impact on depressive and neurocognitive disorders, Epstein said.
However, she said, there are “reasons for hope” as evidence has shown that vaccines are very effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus and vaccination rates have increased in recent months. .
âThe Navajo Nation, which once had the highest COVID incidence rate in the country, has almost no new cases due to an early and unqualified vaccination effort,â Epstein said.
Yet mental health issues continued to emerge.
“We have seen mental health issues arise from dealing with unemployment, struggling family members, having to home school children and complex medical issues that have not been treated put pressure on them. resources, âEpstein said. âPersonally, I have noticed an increase in intimate partner violence and drug addiction as well as agoraphobia. People are afraid to leave their homes or be in public places.
Epstein said one problem San Juan Health Partners Behavioral Health is having is an increased need for mental health services and a decrease in available facilities due to restrictions and closures.
âPeople in this already underserved area are having to wait an unprecedented amount of time to have a first visit with a mental health care provider,â said Epstein. “For this reason, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.”
Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Increased consumption of substances, including alcohol.
- Lack of interest in getting involved with loved ones.
- Difficulty following up on professional or family commitments.
- Fear of leaving home or being in public even when shopping.
- Decrease in academic or professional performance.
- Physical signs like stomach pain, headache, and chest pain.
For help with mental health and addictions, call San Juan Health Partners Behavioral Health at (505) 636-7110.