As our area begins to return to normal, now is the time to consider the mental health impacts that our isolation has caused. More importantly, it’s the time to remember to be kind to each other. Restaurants, gyms, theatres and other places of business are beginning to open and we are starting to see each other out and about more.
It is important to remember that everyone will have different comfort levels of contact and have been through very different things this year.
Please consider when you see friends and acquaintances out that some may be nervously taking their first steps out again. Or they may be eagerly doing it and be comfortable being out and about. Those who have been working with the public this whole time may be totally comfortable being out, or they may still have some trepidation regarding being out because of their exposure risk.
Please use appropriate caution when you’re out and about interacting with people and respect their choices and level of comfort.
We have all been through a lot these last 17 months that has had a serious impact on our mental health and wellbeing. It is important for you to know that it is OK to not be OK and that there are resources to reach out to when you need help.
Mental healthcare is healthcare, and is just as important as your physical health. Just as you wouldn’t tell someone to get over their diabetes, you shouldn’t tell someone to “just get over” their mental health issues. Mental health conditions, like any other health issue, have a physiologic basis that causes the signs and symptoms . They aren’t just something that people can “get over.”
While there are many mental health conditions that could have been worsened by the prolonged isolation and fear, I am going to focus on only depression and anxiety. These are major concerns I have seen in my practice that have worsened over the past year and a half.
It is important to remember that while depression and anxiety are often found separately, this is not always the case, People can certainly suffer from both. While medications can be useful adjuncts for the treatment of depression and anxiety they aren’t the usual first line therapy.
Counselling and cognitive behavioral therapy can be great help and are recommended as starting points either before or when starting medication. Herbal supplements and other nutraceuticals can help as well. It is important however to check with a pharmacist before you start any of these supplements because they can have pretty serious interactions with other medications that can lead to harm.
When we look at medications there are a number of classes that we use to help treat depression and anxiety and treatment needs to be personalized. We understand the vastness of outer space better than we do the depths of the human mind.
Treating mental health conditions is still very much an art and not a science. Do not get discouraged if a treatment you start doesn’t work and needs to be changed a few times until we find something that works for you.
Alternative treatment modalities such as aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, exercise, acupuncture and others also have benefits that can help with depression and anxiety. One of the most important things we can do however is be kind to each other. Everyone is fighting a battle that no one else can see and that goes double right now.
People may have been trapped in a cycle of abuse, returned to using illicit substances or drinking, or had to say goodbye to a loved one over a video chat.
Some haven’t seen their spouse, children or grandchildren in a long time, or have had to miss births or weddings. Others have been worried about their business closing and financial debt, or wondering where their next paycheck would come from.
All of this can have a significant impact on mental health and being kind to each other is the easiest way to help each other feel less overwhelmed by it all.
If you find yourself struggling, in crisis with depression, anxiety or any other mental health conditions, know that you are not alone and you can get help. Whether it be your friends, family, doctor, pharmacist, neighbour or stranger, ask for help.
If you find yourself having thoughts of self-harm, go to your nearest emergency room or reach out to Crisis Services Canada by phoning the Canada Suicide Prevention service toll-free at 1-833-456-4566 or text45645. They have trained responders available to help you cope until you can get help.
Remember Kingsville, you are loved. You are not alone and we are in this together. Stay safe, stay healthy and take care of your mental health too.
If the risk is immediate, please call 9-1-1
Image by THI TRINH from Pixabay