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Is this depression and anxiety or COVID stress?


Sandi Cobia, LMHC

Many of us are experiencing some changes lately related to our circumstances including: increased stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, increased substance use, relationship issues, lower performance, and changes in our eating and weight. I do not think it is out of the ordinary to be experiencing one or more of these issues. I have worked in the field of mental health and substance abuse for over 15 years and what I know about mental health and substance abuse is typically symptoms increase or become overwhelming during times of stress. I also know COVID-19 has created stress in just about everyone in some sort of manner. We have had to isolate, lost loved ones, not been allowed to go places we typically do, and when we can we have to keep away from others and wear a mask. These are just not normal for humans. We are designed to be social beings, rely on each other for comfort and typically have freedom to socialize, exercise, and go to public places without fear.

So, are you experiencing a true mental health concern, substance addiction/abuse or is this just COVID-19 stress? I think it could be both, honestly. The symptoms of depression include: loss of motivation, depressed mood, changes in sleep and eating patterns to include weight loss or gain, thoughts of death either active or passive, isolating from loved ones, loss of joy overall, fatigue/loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty thinking/concentrating or making decisions; and these are present for 2 weeks in various forms. If you are experiencing these its pertinent to talk with a licensed therapist. Sometimes these symptoms go away on their own, yet the underlying issues need treatment. The underlying issue could be the stress of having to make so many changes related to COVID-19, or there may be many underlying issues. A licensed therapist that you trust can help. I would love to help you manage and overcome these issues; regardless of when COVID is no longer an issue.

What about anxiety? Are you anxious or is COVID again, the cause or related issue? Have you been worried excessively about various issues that you feel you cannot control? Have you tried to stop the worry and are unable to do so? Are you restless, easily distracted or fatigued, easily angered/irritable? Do you have trouble sleeping and maybe some muscle tension? These are all signs of generalized anxiety disorder and may or may not be related to COVID-19. Would you like help with these issues? Again, a licensed therapist is the best place to start to learn coping and management of such symptoms.

So where do we go from here? Well we start with a trusting relationship with a licensed professional, engage in a full assessment to learn about the symptoms, signs and areas affected in your life. Then we develop a plan to treat these issues and work together on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to help decrease symptoms which will help life become more enjoyable and relationships healthier; including the one with yourself. I look forward to working with you on any of the above issues or different ones altogether.

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