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  • Nicole Myers, reporter

Coronavirus Impact on Mental Health and Drug Use

The Coronavirus has heavily affected most everyone's lives in multiple and different ways. For some, the only change was having to wear a mask, but for others there were much larger changes.

A few changes include furloughs and layoffs, students moving online, closing businesses, and many cancelled plans and trips. These are the things that come to mind when thinking of the effects of COVID-19. What we don’t see many people speaking of is the toll the virus and global shutdown have affected mental health and the increase in drug usage.

Many people are experiencing stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, loneliness, and anger due to this pandemic. A survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 40.9% of Americans are struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, including the impact of social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

Other statistics that were included show that a total of 30.9% of respondents reported that they have had symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorders, 26.3% had symptoms of trauma and stressor-related disorder related to the pandemic, 13.3% have started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19, and 10.7% reported having seriously considered suicide within the 30 days prior to taking the survey.

These results show that symptoms of anxiety were about three times greater compared to the same period in 2019 and that symptoms of depression were four times greater.

According to the CDC, one suggestion of coping with the constant changes instead of using drugs to relieve stress and to increase mental wellbeing, is to limit exposure to news media. By constantly listening to and/or watching the news about COVID-19 fears can heighten, possibly leading to misinformation, which could in turn increase stress levels.

Stay busy, whether that is cleaning the house, watching a movie, doing a hobby, or completing homework. These activities will keep the mind occupied and away from negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.

Connect with others, even if it’s not physically, reaching out via phone calls, texts, email, and Facetime is always an option.

Despite these difficult times, it is important to stay positive, aware, and safe.

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