February 16, 2023

How the COVID Pandemic Affected our Mental Health

The COVID pandemic had a huge impact on all of our mental health.

Written by

Nicole Biggs

During the Covid pandemic we were all put into a completely alien situation. This had a major impact on our mental health. The pandemic has led to an increase in:

  • Anxiety and panic
  • Depression and low mood
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Anger and frustration
  • Low confidence
  • Grief and bereavement

Anxiety and panic were the most common side effect of the pandemic. We were all faced with a very scary life or death situation. Our fight or flight response was triggered a lot, and rightly so. We were told on the news every day how many people were dying, and we were told to stay indoors, or you may also die. Really scary stuff. There were things we could do to protect ourselves, however, our brains went into overdrive. The ‘what if ..’ thoughts started to run riot. This is especially the case as a lot of us were unable to do the things that we may use to deal with stress of worry, like going to the gym. In fact, we had to live very restricted lives. We were therefore left trying to cope with our stresses and anxieties without our normal everyday stress relievers.

We were also told to only go out if we really had to, and so as a result a lot of people became scared of going outside. We became stuck indoors, frightened by other people, frightened by what may be outside. This led to a lot of people becoming lonely and isolated. When you are frightened, lonely and isolated, it can often be hard to be objective and realise that the danger is imagined or can be controlled by taking some steps to protect yourself. You therefore start to spiral down in a seemingly never-ending trail of ‘what if….’. This can then lead to depression, agoraphobia and social anxiety.

We were not allowed to socialise with other people or check up on our friends and neighbours by popping over to see them. In addition, our access to health and social services was restricted. People’s support network of agencies, friends and family were therefore severely affected. Those who were coping before the pandemic were often pushed into crisis through the lack of support. This led to an increase in hopelessness and helplessness.

Frustration and anger are often triggered when someone feels scared and threatened. This is the fight part of the fight or flight response. Therefore, there was also a big increase in the levels of anger and frustration during the pandemic. People felt hemmed in, unable to leave their houses. Frustrated at the government or other agencies for not doing more to help people during the pandemic, or to find a cure. Anger at not being able to do what they wanted to do and living in such a restricted way.

There was obviously also a lot of grief and bereavement during the pandemic. This was made even harder as our death rituals were really affected. We could not visit people in hospital or care homes. We therefore often could not say our goodbyes at their bedside, something that is very important to us. Our ability to have funerals was also really affected, with even not being able to have a funeral at all in some cases. Funerals are so important to us as a way of saying goodbye and acknowledging the death. It allows people to come together and comfort each other. Without our death rituals and support from others our grief became harder to deal with.

Our confidence was also greatly affected. If you stop doing something for a bit, it is always harder to start again. We are not sure whether we can still do this anymore. Therefore, we were more wary and less confident in going back to work, back to not wearing masks, back to our lives before the pandemic. We were scared, which will inevitably make you more cautious. The idea of taking public transport back into the office was often a terrifying one, as well as many others. Our confidence as a nation has been greatly affected. Post pandemic the hospitality and leisure industries are still struggling, public transport is used much less frequently than before. It will take time for us to build our confidence back up again.

Therefore, the pandemic has greatly affected our mental health, and we will need to see what long term affects there are.

For more information, or just a chat, please contact me on 07742 209312 or nicole@greenoaktherapies.co.uk

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