The Covid-19 pandemic has seen an increase in mental health problems due to multiple factors. In particular, research shows that survivors of the infection are vulnerable to developing generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. In this blog we focus on the signs and symptoms of some of these mental health conditions and offer advice on when and how to seek help.
We can easily take our mental health and wellbeing for granted. And it can be hard to recognise when difficulties start to emerge, particularly if we have no previous experience of mental health problems. But the spike in common mental health issues as a result of Covid, highlights how many of us may now be vulnerable, even if we have never suffered mental health difficulties before.
Symptoms to watch out for
If you’ve not been feeling yourself since the pandemic hit, check out these symptoms and find out if you need to take action to look after your mental wellbeing:
- Feeling nervous or on edge
- Worrying too much about different things
- Trouble relaxing
- Being so restless that it is hard to sit still
- Becoming easily annoyed or irritable
- Feeling afraid as if something awful may happen
- Loss of interest or pleasure in doing things
- Feeling down, low or hopeless
- Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
- Feeling tired or having little energy
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Feeling bad about yourself (e.g. that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down)
- Trouble concentrating on things, such as work or watching television
- Moving or speaking more slowly than usual, or being restless or fidgety
- Having thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way
- Repeated disturbing memories, thoughts or images of a stressful experience from the past
- Feeling very upset when something reminds you of a stressful experience from the past
- Avoiding activities or situations because they remind you of a stressful experience from the past
- Feeling distant or cut off from other people
- Feeling irritable or having angry outbursts
- Having difficulty concentrating
If any of these symptoms have been troubling you for several days or increasingly over the last 2 weeks, it might be time to consider seeking some help or advice. In particular, if the difficulties you have identified make it hard for you to do your work, take care of things at home or get along with other people, then it is important that you access some support.
Accessing mental health support
See your doctor
The best place to start is to talk things through with your GP. They will ask you some questions and try to help you make sense of your symptoms. This opportunity to share your concerns will help you understand what is going on for you. Finding out that there is something you can do often comes as a relief and you may experience an easing of symptoms straight away. Following your consultation, your GP may ask you to keep in regular contact with them, offer you self-help materials or guidance, or refer you to an organisation offering specialist counselling or talking therapies.
In the UK you can access some key NHS services via self-referral. These services, known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services, draw on a number of evidence-based therapy models to help people manage and overcome mental health difficulties.
Online counselling or therapy
Online resources for mental health support are also available. It is important to ensure the mental health practitioner you see is suitably qualified and trained to work ethically online.
Find a private therapist
You can find a private therapist who has the necessary qualifications through the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, British Psychological Society, British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, EMDR Association. Be sure to check that the practitioner you choose is registered with the HCPC, the governing body that regulates health and social care providers.
Other sources of help
In addition to the links and organisations mentioned here, the NHS has set up a website with information for sufferers, friends and family on coping with the aftermath of Covid infection. There is also more general information from the NHS on accessing support for mental health challenges.
If you found this helpful and would like to read more bitesize tips to boost your health and wellbeing at work and at home, check out some of the other blogs in this series. You might also like to join our Facebook group UR Resilient, where members are busy sharing creative and inspiring ideas to build personal resilience and maintain a positive mindset during this challenging time.