Dr Sylvia Tang, a leading London consultant adult psychiatrist, is on hand to explain the several ways the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the population’s mental health and wellbeing. She also provides tips to get you started on combating the virus’ impact on your mental health.
Is the nation’s mental wellbeing different now compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic?
There is some evidence that particularly young people have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, suffering from an increase in depression and anxiety. Since the end of lockdown, more patients are being admitted to A&E with more severe illness, particularly relapses of psychotic illnesses that require detention under the Mental Health Act.
Others are struggling with long-term complications after having COVID-19, which also affects their mood and anxiety. For these patients, it can be particularly distressing when they feel they’re being labelled as suffering from the physical symptoms of anxiety. However, this isn’t as frequent since post-COVID symptoms were recently identified.
How do you think the pandemic has affected people's mental health?
There seems to have been an increase in relapse of pre-existing conditions that may have been mainly under control, such as eating disorders, anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) and anxiety disorders.
People have struggled with isolation. Being unable to go to the office, the gym or to meet friends has resulted in the deterioration of their mood and anxiety. They feel a loss of purpose and are not motivated to maintain a routine.
What advice can you give to those who are struggling mentally during the pandemic?
It’s really important to:
- Maintain an active routine
- Exercise every day
- Plan daytime activities (e.g. hobbies, household tasks)
- Eat regularly
- Maintain a regular bedtime
- Plan social interaction (either remotely or socially distanced)
For more severe illnesses, it’s important to seek professional help. This is available either by video call or face-to-face. There are a variety of therapies available to you, as well as treatment with medication if necessary.
Has your mental wellbeing been affected by the pandemic? Dr Tang can help you overcome this – learn more and get in touch.