Last spring, we went into our first nationwide lockdown caused by COVID-19 that has resulted in numerous psychological and physical consequences for many of us.
Young adults and adults, in particular, experienced situations like fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hopelessness and the feeling of being lost.
A study conducted on PubMed, Embase, Medline, Web of Science and Scopus in May 2020, showed high rates of symptoms of anxiety (6.33% to 50.9%), depression (14.6% to 48.3%), ptsd or post-traumatic stress disorder (7% to 53.8%), psychological distress (34.43% to 38%) and stress (8.1% to 81.9%) in the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic in China, Spain, Italy, Iran, the United States, Turkey, Nepal and Denmark.
To reduce the adverse effects of the pandemic on mental health, it is crucial to focus on what we can control. During this time of uncertainty, knowing that you are not alone is key.
Following health guidelines, finding social support, prioritizing self-care, helping others in need, and asking for professional help can help you to tackle the pandemic.
The effects of the pandemic observed on children were anxiety, depression and insomnia caused by the disruption of their routines. And also the closure of schools, inability to see friends and the constant exposure to concerning news resulted in an increase in aggressive and grumpy behavior along with a decrease in attention spans.
In some cases, developmental regression was also detected in younger children. To prevent this type of effects, parents are advised to spend more time together, show more affection, have little to no discussions about the ongoing pandemic near children and allow more video chats with relatives and friends.
Another issue on the agenda is what will the "new normal" be like after the pandemic. The “new normal” means the state to which we settle down following a crisis in the economy, policy and other areas.
Seemingly, there will not be any magical moments when the virus disappears. "It will be so gradual, we probably won't even notice it," says Howard Markel, an American physician and medical historian. He added that once enough time passes after the pandemic, “we will forget all about it.”
Many events can cause additional mental distress in the process of returning to normal. For instance, addiction levels that surged over the course of lockdown, financial challenges that employees faced, fear of catching the virus, increase in xenophobia, and incidents of domestic violence can complicate the return.
However, the pandemic has also shown the interconnectedness of our lives. During the lockdown, communities formed a strong sense of unity by recognizing that one's actions heavily affect others. This awareness is essential to reach the pre-COVID-19 state.
Many experts presume that the coronavirus will turn into a regular sickness like seasonal influenza and a notable amount of citizens will be recommended to get annual vaccinations against the COVID-19. Scientists believe that the “new normal” is expected to be a world where society resumes their lives with regular testings, vaccine passports, masks, and hand sanitizers.
This summer, many countries are opening back up, including Turkey. After staying away from crowds for two years, restarting our “old” lives can be difficult. In order to have an easy transition into our new lives, it is imperative to take our time.
Starting with simple tasks such as going to a cafe with a close friend can be helpful at reducing post lockdown anxiety. This can also help with rebuilding relationships while reconciling with our close circle.
Consulting mental health professionals is very important since everyones’ reaction to change can vary. Reflecting on your lockdown experience is also necessary.
Rather than concentrating on our pre-coronavirus lives, we should recognize the positive adjustments that we made during the lockdown and implement these modifications into our post-COVID-19 days.
Letting go of our pre-pandemic life is good not just for mental health but for our overall health. Lastly, we should accept that this disease will be a part of our lives for a long time.
In order to accept this transition in a healthy way, following guidelines and getting vaccinated are critical to our health. Normal life is only possible if immunization is achieved, yet scientists warn that this process may take more than a few years. Therefore until that moment arrives, it is key to stay safe and healthy.
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