The Mental Toll COVID-19 is Taking is Significant and Real

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There is no doubt now that as we are in the second wave of the pandemic people are tired and frustrated. COVID fatigue is certainly real, particularly for those who live alone or in long-term care homes who have been restricted from human touch for the last 8 months.

COVID has also caused enormous mental and emotional strain for those with young children at home who found themselves juggling work, full-time parenting, and schooling at home. For those with teens, it hasn’t been much better. The teen years are about independence, pushing away from parents, and stretching socially and emotionally. These things have not been possible, and nor will they be for the foreseeable future.

Doctors, mental health professionals, and almost everyone else has noticed an increase in stress, anxiety, and impatient behaviour. Depression and sleep problems are rampant. Alcohol and drug use is up. Overdoses and drug-related deaths are skyrocketing. This can all be attributed to the fallout of COVID – lack of in-person supports, lack of access to mental health and physical health care, lack of emotional support and social interactions from the people we love or call a friend.

If you are feeling out of sorts, tired, depressed, or anxious you are not alone. CAMH surveyed Canadians from May to September of this year and found:

  • People reporting moderate to severe anxiety increased 2% in that period
  • 25% of people reported binge drinking
  • 21% feel depressed

Sources of worry for Canadians include financial stress, infection worries, impacts on their employment and worries over workplace exposure to the virus.

For those who have had COVID-19 and suffered moderate to severe illness, we are learning the long term impacts of the disease are wide-ranging and serious as well.

Many people who have gotten the disease seem to have the following long term symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty thinking – brain fog
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Intermittent fever
  • Fast beating or pounding heart

Other more serious complications have been reported less frequently

  • Cardiovascular – inflammation of the heart
  • Lung function abnormalities
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Psychiatric disorders – depression, anxiety and mood changes

Those who are over 60 and those with underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease are both more likely to get the virus and more likely to suffer from the long term impacts or die from it.

If you are feeling anxious or out of sorts, lonely or depressed you are not alone. You can speak with your doctor, counsellor, clergy, or friends. If you are fearing for your own wellbeing or that of someone else and need immediate crisis support there is help available 24/7.

  • Text WELLNESS to 741741 if you are an adult and need help. 
  • If you are a frontline worker text FRONTLINE to 741741
  • If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm or need urgent medical support call 911