Recent COVID surge brings along spike in depression, experts say

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The current surge in COVID-19 cases and talk of new variants is causing another concerning problem.

Mental health professionals are reporting a spike in cases of depression and anxiety over the last month and a half.

“A lot of fear, a lot of ‘what if,'” said Clinical Psychologist Adam Borland with the Cleveland Clinic. “What we call catastrophic thinking, where we go to the worst-case scenario in our minds.”

Over 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety and depression disorders, making it the most common mental health illness in the U.S.

The pandemic magnified those struggles and led to an increase in cases as well as suicides and substance abuse.

Doctors say a number of factors are contributing to this current spike.

Dr. Borland says people were feeling hopeful when the vaccine was first released and then experienced a sense of normalcy this summer. Therefore, seeing a return to wearing masks and other factors has people worried about another possible lockdown.

“What’s been difficult for people to get a hold of is that feeling of, ‘Are we going back?’” said Dr. Borland. “That’s creating a lot of fear and anxiety. What’s also prevalent is anger and frustration, feelings of resentment and impatience.”

According to the CDC, some signs of depression and anxiety to watch out for in yourself and your loved ones include feeling sad or anxious often, feeling irritable, frustrated or worthless, eating too much or too little, trouble concentrating and sleep issues.

“Lack of interest, you know, feelings of sadness and despair and then conversely it can also come out as anger or rage, so it’s certain things that we want to monitor among our friends and our loved ones,” said Dr. Borland.

A person should definitely seek help or be taken to an emergency room if they exhibit more serious symptoms of depression, including isolating from others, behaving aggressively and talking about wanting to die.

Dr. Borland says children especially should be monitored and encouraged to talk about their feelings. He said they’re already going through a difficult time returning to school during a pandemic with safety protocols that could cause them stress.

Some other helpful tips include connecting with loved ones as much as possible, setting limits on social media and stressful news content and seeking help or counseling.

Also, now more than ever, Dr. Borland says it’s important to be kind to yourself and others.

“Making sure you have healthy outlets and emotional supports you can turn to, and it’s really important that we try and focus on gratitude, that we look through the lens of what is good in life,” said Dr. Borland.

Anyone in crisis can contact the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation at 800-273-8255 or text “4-Hope” to 741-741.

To find suicide counselors in your county, click here.

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