After seemingly endless months of social distancing orders, home isolation, health concerns and economic stress, many of us have become familiar with feeling overwhelmed, anxious and/or down due to these challenging circumstances.
In fact, during the pandemic, the number of prescriptions written for anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications increased by 34.1%, and 18.6%, respectively. The pandemic has taken an emotional toll on many people, and for those with existing mental health conditions, these stressors can trigger an unhealthy relationship with substances and/or alcohol. A recent survey found that people with depression were 64% more likely to increase their alcohol consumption during the pandemic, and those with anxiety were 41% more likely to do so as well.
Detox.net, a provider of treatment resources relating to addiction rehabilitation, conducted a survey (4,150) which found that over two-thirds of Marylanders questioned (69%) say they would first seek medication over therapy if they felt a decrease in their mental health during the pandemic. This is compared to a national average of 44%. Broken down by gender, women were more likely (47%) to turn to prescription medication to help deal with their mental health, than men were (41%).
With the catastrophic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, many Marylanders’ lives have been affected financially, emotionally and health-wise. However, unlike pre-pandemic times, in which it was easier to reach out for help from loved ones or through therapy sessions, it may be more challenging now to do so with social distancing regulations in place. Worryingly, more than half (56%) of respondents say they have become more closed off about their emotions during the pandemic.
Moreover, almost 1 in 5 (17%) of those who have struggled emotionally during the pandemic, say the idea of seeking therapy intimidates them. This could be a result of being isolated from others for a prolonged period of time, therefore, some may fear the prospect of opening up to another person. It could also have to do with some people fearing going out in public spaces over fear of contracting the coronavirus.
Forty-three percent of people say the idea of virtual therapy sessions would deter them from seeking this kind of psychological help. Despite being safer for both parties involved due to eliminating the risk of viral transmission, it can be difficult to connect with someone via video call – both emotionally and in terms of problems with technology.
Reassuringly, the survey revealed that more than three-quarters (76%) of respondents say they have a trusted family member or friend who they would feel comfortable reaching out to for help.