I already have a diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder, how might the pandemic affect me and what should I do?
If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health condition, it’s important to know that the stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic might cause your symptoms to worsen. We encourage you to take the following steps to look after your emotional health.
- If you are currently receiving treatment, be sure to continue with that treatment. If you are not able to receive in-person care, develop a plan for telehealth sessions with your provider(s).
- Make sure that you’re taking your medications as prescribed and have a plan for maintaining access to those medications during the pandemic.
- If you are not currently receiving treatment, make sure to monitor your symptoms closely and reach out to your mental health care provider(s) if those symptoms begin to worsen or impact your daily life.
- Think back to the strategies and coping skills that were helpful to you in the past and put them back into action now.
- Find additional mental health supports.
I am worried about my mental health but have never been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Am I at risk of developing a mental health disorder because of stress from the COVID-19 pandemic?
For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted key areas of our lives, creating a sense of instability or heightened concern across a number of important domains including health, finance, and personal relationships. In addition to those stresses, recommendations from the U.S. government or major health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control actually encourage us to engage in behaviors that might otherwise seem strange or would not generally be recommended, like repeatedly washing our hands or being isolated from other people. Under these conditions, it can be hard to know what’s healthy or normal behavior, and what might represent a more serious mental health concern. In this section, we hope to help you distinguish between normative and more concerning responses to COVID-19.
View a video to learn about how you can determine what is healthy and unhealthy when so many people are experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma symptoms during the coronavirus outbreak.
During the pandemic, you might find yourself
- Worrying that you or someone you care about will get sick with the COVID-19 virus.
- Washing your hands or disinfecting household and personal objects (such as doorknobs, cell phones, keys, etc.) more frequently than normal.
- Being on high alert when in public spaces, or paying a lot of attention to how close you are to other people in public spaces.
- Feeling angry and frustrated that your daily activities are dramatically limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Worrying about finances and your ability to care for yourself and your family in the future.
- Feeling isolated, lonely, and bored when staying at home for long periods of time.
- Eating more than normal, or choosing more “comforting” foods than might be typical for you.
- Sleeping more or less than normal.
These are all very unpleasant, but very typical reactions to the extreme circumstances that the COVID-19 pandemic has created. If you find yourself experiencing these things, know that you’re not alone, and that there are strategies and coping skills that might help you to manage some of these normal stress responses.
It’s also important to know that these experiences and other stresses that you might encounter during the COVID-19 pandemic can develop into more serious mental health concerns, for which more active interventions might be appropriate. Some of the most common mental health disorders linked to stress are depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder.
Learn more about each of these common behavioral health concerns, and review a list of common symptoms.