Don’t ignore difficult feelings during COVID-19

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A psychologist offers advice on how to deal with the gamut of emotions we’re feeling in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are experiencing a gamut of emotions.

According to Cleveland Clinic’s Scott Bea, PsyD, when a community is faced with a crisis, different people react in different ways.

Some become particularly panic-stricken, while others are more laid back about things.

And during challenging times, Dr. Bea said it’s not uncommon for people engage in panic-shopping.

“When we’re anxious, we’re a little bit more prone to be suggestible, and culturally, we’re pretty anxious right now,” he said. “So, when there’s a suggestion that a particular product is running low, that activates tension in a lot of people, and it spreads like a contagion itself, so people will show this behavior of getting to stores and stocking up on items that they fear will be in short supply – it’s just a part of our human psyche.”

During these times, Dr. Bea said it’s important for people to be on the lookout for signs of depression, even if they’ve never experienced symptoms before.

A diminished appetite, trouble sleeping, irritability, and feelings of helplessness, or hopelessness – especially thoughts of self-harm, are all warning signs of depression.

Anyone experiencing these feelings should contact a mental health professional right away.

If you know someone who struggles with mental health, Dr. Bea said now is the time to reach out to them.

“I think it’s great to check on everybody that you care about, even somewhat loosely – and to do it routinely,” he said. “Let’s talk with each other on a daily basis, that can be part of our routine and that’s one other way that we can feel that we’re helping and showing some governance at a time of tremendous uncertainty.”

Dr. Bea encourages people who are struggling to contact a mental health professional, so they can learn how to safely obtain mental health services without risking their physical health.