Pandemic got you feeling down? Don’t feel guilty, doctor says
Isolation, a lack of routine, new feelings of anxiety and sadness. They are all part of the mental health journey we are taking, together but separately, six months into the COVID-19 crisis in New Jersey.
Many people are experiencing telltale signs of depression for the very first time due to this major life change, according to Dr. Tanya Schineller, a psychiatrist with AtlantiCare Behavioral Health.
Those new experiences within the mind and body may prompt guilt or shame, but Schineller said the mental health of every individual is important, so your mental health certainly matters, and perhaps now more than ever.
Not only have our routines been disrupted, but so have our social and familial interactions. For those whose close contacts are elderly or high-risk, that may bring on guilt in a different way.
"It's frightening, you know, they don't want to do anything to jeopardize their loved ones," Schineller said. "It's disruptive and it leads them to feel sadness, and they're confused, they're more anxious, worrying, don't feel hopeful for the future."
The financial strain of job losses and reductions, also brought on by the coronavirus, is another distinct hurdle, according to Schineller.
And when finances dry up — insurance too — even if someone is willing to talk about what they are going through mentally, they may not easily identify where or how.
"It was, I think, difficult for people, especially in the patients I see, they often don't have a lot of resources, so it makes it that much harder," Schineller said.
Above all, the doctor advised anyone experiencing new symptoms, either mental or physical, not to postpone care, and to keep regular appointments when scheduled.
"Cataract surgery was delayed due to COVID," Schineller said as an example. "This led to temporary blindness and loss of function for the patient, and then led to depression and anxiety symptoms."
Dr. Schineller has written further on the particular mental health challenges of COVID-19, in a blog you can read here.
Call 211 within New Jersey to get information on both COVID-19 and mental health resources.