Anxiety, depression and insomnia – what is the cause of these mental health issues?
Blurring boundaries between work and home
The face of work has changed. Many people now work from home and struggle to set boundaries between work and home life. Some patients report that they now have meetings at times which would previously be considered after hours, extending the work day.
Experience with infection and illness
Most people have either been personally infected by COVID, or know a family member, friend or acquaintance who have had COVID, oftentimes quite severely. This has caused a general sense of fear, and perhaps even panic. There seems to be an impending sense of doom, a fear of the unknown, and a sense of loss of control.
Limited social interactions is another cause of anxiety and insomnia, particularly for those who live alone or in an unstable household. We thrive on personal contact with others, and it is a great source of support in trying times. Thankfully, with online platforms such as Zoom and Teams, we are able to stay in touch with loved ones and colleagues; however it does not replace face to face interactions. In addition, online interactions unfortunately may not be a possibility for those with limited resources.
Lack of physical exercise
Many of my patients report that they stopped exercising during hard lockdown and didn’t regain an exercise routine once restrictions were lifted. Some are fearful of visiting the gym. Exercise has great mental health benefits and a decrease in exercise often contributes to a decline in mental health.
Delays and uncertainty
The roll out of the vaccine did seem to provide hope, with light at the end of this long COVID tunnel. However, with the temporary setbacks we have experienced and little clarity on when and how it is going to be rolled out, there is again a feeling of uncertainty about the timeline of this pandemic. This adds another stressor to the burden on mental health.