If you’re struggling through COVID-19, don’t do so alone

depression

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It makes sense that people vulnerable in terms of mental health might struggle through an extended period of isolation. But the numbers that we reported last week, from a CDC report, were next level.

More than a quarter – 25.5 percent – of those ages 18-24, and 16 percent of those ages 25-44, reported in June having thoughts of suicide in the previous 30 days.

We can guess that those numbers are at least holding, and maybe have pushed higher, now that we’re two months deeper into our two weeks to flatten the COVID-19 curve.

Other indicators of the stresses of the current time are also sky-high. The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder was approximately three times those reported in the second quarter of 2019 (25.5 percent versus 8.1 percent), and prevalence of depressive disorder was approximately four times that reported in the second quarter of 2019 (24.3 percent versus 6.5 percent).

And in a cruel twist, those most vulnerable are also going to be less likely to seek help, because of the drumbeat of public health messaging stressing social distancing and staying at home.

Just as we are beginning to learn the toll in terms of the many so-called lockdown deaths from people not seeking medical attention for heart attacks and strokes and curtailing important cancer treatments, it’s starting to become clear that untreated mental health problems are adding to the excess deaths experienced over the past five months.

That’s the formal part of this op-ed.

Now, to the personal.

If you’re struggling, look, it’s not just you.

Millions have lost their jobs; millions more who haven’t dearly miss what had been routine connections with friends, family.

Add those two totals up, and you’re talking about pretty much all of us.

Our routines are so out of whack that we almost can’t imagine what life was like before 2020.

It might seem like there’s no end to the current new normal in sight, and honestly, I wish I could pinpoint that end date.

I can say from my daily reads through the public health data that it is coming.

In the meantime, you don’t need to go through this alone.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is a great resource.

Call 1-800-273-8255, or go online to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

There’s no shame in admitting you need help.

We all need help from time to time.

You can get through this. You’re going to get through this.

We’re all going to get through this.

Story by Chris Graham


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