The pandemic has taken a toll on mental health. In our country, for example, one in five Spaniards has felt “depressed or hopeless” for many days in this pandemic year, more than 40% have had sleep problems, and more than half feel “tired or with little energy ”, according to the latest CIS survey published in early March. These are data similar to those offered by the General Council of Psychology of Spain in its study “Psychological discomfort derived from COVID-19 in the second wave”, which highlights that one in four Spaniards presents symptoms related to severe depression or moderated by COVID-19.
And it is not a unique situation in Spain. In all countries, the symptoms of depression and anxiety have increased, both among health workers and in the general population, according to data from a recent meta-analysis, carried out by the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Ottawa, in Canada. The loss of loved ones, going through a serious illness, isolation, loss of employment or fear of losing it, precariousness and reduced income, restrictions on mobility, tele-work, difficulties in reconciliation and fear of contagion These are just some of the many causes of the high emotional impact of the pandemic on the general population.
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Stress, the greatest emotional impact of COVID-19
As explained from Aegon, all this has impacted on the health of the population, increasing the number of people with stress and the consequences of this state are:
- An increase in headaches
- Fatigue, tiredness, lack of energy
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Sleeping problems
- Weight gain from eating more
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression
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#SaludMentalPasoAPaso, a campaign to help people with depression
One of the most serious problems that this sustained stress can cause is the depression. To try to help people who suffer from it, the Lundbeck Foundation has launched the second part of the #SaludMentalPasoAPaso campaign, which includes a total of five podcasts -available on Spotify- in which the journalist and writer, Carme Chaparro, talks with two psychiatrists, a family doctor and people with depression and schizophrenia.
The conversations address questions such as how to handle uncertainty, how to know if what you feel is normal or pathological, or how to differentiate between stress, anxiety and depression, and when to ask for help. As Dr. Marina Díaz Marsá, Section Chief of the San Carlos Clinical Hospital in Madrid and President of the Madrid Psychiatry Society explains, “the Uncertainty generates anxiety, stress, discomfort, and is difficult to cope with on a day-to-day basis. It precipitates the risk of an anxiety disorder, depression or even the abuse of alcohol or some substances. “
In their opinion, it is important to differentiate what is a disorder from a negative feeling or an adaptive reaction, and to know that if the discomfort or negative emotions persist or worsen over time, causing dysfunction, help and support should be sought. professional. This help is also necessary if the individual tends to interpret a normal environment as threatening or is very sensitive to stressful environmental events, generating uneasiness and excessive worry.
This is also believed by Dr. Silvia López Chamón, a family doctor at the Huerta de los Frailes de Leganés Health Center, in Madrid, who recommends consulting a doctor whenever emotions considered normal – sadness, fear, guilt, stress, anxiety, etc. – modify daily life. “Addressing the problem in early stages is easier. When in doubt, it is preferable to ask for professional help. The interview is therapeutic in itself. Talking is essential ”.
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Depression and schizophrenia
On the other hand, it is explained the difference between stress, anxiety and depression. “Stress and anxiety are two normal physiological reactions. However, stress or anxiety maintained over time and of great intensity, can cause an anxiety or depressive disorder that prevents the body from responding in a functional way, ”says Dr. Díaz Marsá. Remember, likewise, that depression should not be confused with sadness, understood as a habitual and temporary feeling, because depression is a complex disease that encompasses a wide variety of symptoms, and the sadness associated with depression is qualitative and quantitative different and limits and functionally incapacitates the person. “When it is sensed that anxiety or depression begin to prevent us from working as before, it is time to seek professional help.”
This podcast series features first-person testimonials, as well as addressing the specific concerns that people with mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia have right now. What red flags should they look for to detect a relapse? Why are populations more vulnerable to the pandemic situation? How can you prepare for the phone or video call with the doctor?
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