Loneliness During Covid-19

By Eleanor Kim

As we round out one year of stay at home orders and self-quarantine measures due to the novel coronavirus, many are reflecting on their time at home and their mental health during this period. While every individual’s experience over this past year has been unique, one experience seems to be universal-loneliness. Folks around the world were left to deal with their own fears and anxieties regarding the virus and general health and safety of loved ones without the usual group of support from family and friends. This experience was exacerbated for those that were left to face the effects of COVID-19 on their own as unforeseen circumstances forced individuals into isolation.

A recent study found that 65% of participants felt increased feelings of loneliness since the official declaration of the pandemic. In that same study, 76% reported feelings of anxiety, 58% reported a loss of feelings of connectedness, and 78% reported feelings of depression. These feelings of loneliness have far reaching effects as another study found a link between loneliness and heart problems, diabetes, stroke, memory complaints, drug abuse risk, and elevated blood pressure. Other issues include trouble sleeping, negative relationships with food, and an increased reliance on maladaptive coping skills such as drinking and gambling. Loneliness is not a new condition; however, the magnitude in which it is presenting itself is alarming and deserving of a closer watch, especially among younger and older generations.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that individuals strengthen the relationship that they have with themselves. Each emotion that has presented itself during this past year is valid and expected during such a trying and unknown time. It is recommended that individuals welcome these feelings and try their best not to avoid or deny such states of mind. The effects of coronavirus and the impact it has had on the physical and mental wellbeing of people around the world unfortunately will continue to be felt as we trek towards the “new normal” and sense of global stability. It is essential that individuals remind themselves that they are not alone during these times of loneliness and that there are resources available to help cope with any feelings of unrest or isolation.

Online services such as Zoom or Cisco Webex offer opportunities for groups to interact in a virtual setting that will help simulate a sense of community and togetherness. Socially-distanced gatherings may be an option for those who are able to meet in an outdoor or well ventilated area, weather permitting. Experts recommend limiting time spent on social media as excessive time spent on these apps and websites could instill feelings of frustration, anxiety, and comparison with others. Should these feelings of loneliness and isolation persist, telehealth is available for those who may wish to speak to mental health professionals throughout these difficult times.

If you or someone you know is feeling lonely or isolated, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

References:

https://www.sharp.com/health-news/managing-loneliness-during-covid-19.cfm

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/alarming-covid-19-study-shows-80-of-respondents-report-significant-symptoms-of-depression#Making-things-better

Image Source:

https://lifesupportscounselling.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/loneliness-in-lockdown.jpg

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D)

By Tatyana A. Reed

As the weather seems to slow down and we shift from bright sunny days to cold winter nights, some of us may notice a sudden change of mood that comes with this weather shift. This change of mood is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D). According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “S.A.D is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, but are much less common than winter episodes of SAD.”

Signs & Symptoms

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having problems with sleep
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

Causes

  • People with SAD may have trouble regulating seratonin, which is one of the key neurotransmitters involved in mood.
  • People with SAD may overproduce the hormone melatonin.
  • People with SAD also may produce less Vitamin D.

 

Getting Treated

  • Medication: if someone suffers from S.A.D they can be helped by taking Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). However, like all medication there are side effects, make sure to speak with your doctor about this first.
  • Light therapy: the feelings of S.A.D can be lessoned by sitting in front of a light box that emits 10,000 lux of cool- white- fluorescent light for 20-60 minutes. The light is said to replace the loss of light from daylight savings
  • Therapy: it is best to talk with a psychologist, counselor, or someone in the mental health field when feeling different types of emotions that may be negative such as sadness or anger. Seeking help is the first step to eliminating S.A.D.

If you or a person you know is struggling with S.A.D, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

References:

Koblenz, Jessica. “11 Things About Seasonal Affective Disorder That Psychologists Wish You Knew.” Reader’s Digest, www.readersdigest.ca/health/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-facts/. (PHOTO)

National Mental Health Institute. “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml.