By Judy Peterson
It was my wedding day and I’d planned a beautiful sit down dinner reception but had forgotten to order the dishes and silverware people would need to eat it! Frantic, I raced to the reception venue and was promptly told I could rent utensils for an extra $10,000…
Fortunately, I woke up right after that and realized I was having yet another strange dream – my fifth since going into lockdown.
I call them “fantasmagorical” dreams – part fantasy, part magic, definitely weird.
Numerous media are reporting that COVID-19 induced stress and anxiety are disrupting many peoples’ sleep and causing them to have weirdly vivid dreams, too.
But COVID’s impact goes well beyond dreaming. The financial impacts are already well-documented and now the mental health impacts are being scrutinized.
In San Jose, Dr. Nivedita Lakhera described the mental health impacts she’s seeing as an “emerging epidemic.”
“Social distancing is crucial but we have to check on each other, especially those with underlying mental health issues,” Dr. Lakhera said. “I don’t want people to hide their emotions and I don’t want people to fight their emotions. It’s important that people acknowledge and share their emotions.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, says nearly one in five American adults experience mental illness each year. But the impacts go well beyond the individual, affecting family members, caregivers and society in general.
That’s why the NAMI COVID-19 Information and Resource Guide addresses everything from stress to anxiety, isolation and grieving.
One result of COVID-19 symptoms, Dr. Lakhera said, will be an increase in Post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We are absolutely going to see a spike in PTSD,” she said. “My friends across the country are waking up in the middle of the night – they’re having panic attacks and anxiety attacks, and those with underlying mental health disorders are having worsening depression.”
She’s especially worried about first responders.
“It’s mentally, emotionally draining and isolating especially to healthcare workers,” she said. “I had one doctor contact me with suicidal ideations. I’m very deeply concerned because it’s taking an immense toll on frontline healthcare workers – whether it’s physicians, nurses, paramedics, firefighters or respiratory therapists.”
She cited healthcare workers in New York City and even tiny Valdosta, Georgia who have “absolutely no protection” on the job.
“They are at so much high risk of catching the disease and they see their colleagues dying from it,” she said. “They see politicians not having a clear-cut policy for managing the disease and this is taking an immense emotional toll on all of us.”
Dr. Lakhera says there’s plenty of help available for people suffering from COVID-related mental health problems, including medication.
“We can screen it, we can treat it,” she said. “With early recognition and treatment, we can prevent morbidity.”
To prevent going into a deep depression or even just a funk, the experts agree that no one should be alone – reach out to neighbors, the elderly, people you know who may be at risk. Don’t watch too much news. Move around. And ask for help if you need it.
The 22-page NAMI COVID-19 guide also lists phone numbers and web sites for health-related resources to help people deal with the pandemic. You can find it at nami.org.
Stay Informed. Join Us.
San Jose Dr. Nivedita Lakhera points out that the “economy cannot thrive on dead bodies. We need human beings to create the economy, to sustain the economy.
Dr. Lakhera argues that “we should save lives because that’s what makes an economy. You need people to buy the stuff corporations sell.”Read More
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Santa Clara County health director Sara Cody states that “this pandemic is going to be with us for a very, very, very long time.” That’s why Dr. Noor Sachdev says people returning to work must adhere to strict rules. “We cannot afford a rebound. That would be so costly and would hurt the economy much more. It would mean we’d have a much longer shelter-in-place.”Read More
COVID-19: the rationing of healthcare should not be a concern if we continue to abide by stay at home orders
California healthcare providers are reminded that healthcare discrimination is prohibited in the U.S. There’s also a good set of guidelines that physicians follow. Santa Clara County is working hard to ensure that such decisions will be unnecessary, but there won’t be a need for such a decision if we all abide by stay at home orders.Read More
In response to news reports, the COVID-19 Community Coalition is urging Governor Newsom to deny nursing homes and assisted living facilities immunity to COVID-19 legal action. The New York Times is reporting that at least 7,000 people living in or connected with nursing homes have died of the coronavirus and more than 36,500 residents and employees across the nation have contracted it.Read More
The San Jose-based COVID-19 Community Coalition urges all Americans to join in paying tribute to the courage and bravery of those serving on the Coronavirus front line battle.Read More