COVID-19 mental health impacts could linger post-pandemic

Health

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado has reached a pivotal point in the COVID-19 pandemic, with widespread vaccine availability bringing hope that things could look more normal by mid-summer.

Dr. Liz Chamberlain, a licensed psychologist at CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, said while many are optimistic about this turning point, it could cause more stress and anxiety.

“We’ve really become accustomed to being more isolated, keeping our distance, working from home and being in Zoom meetings. I think it’s going to be a difficult transition to get back to however we’re going to be next,” said Chamberlain.

A study released in January by the American Psychological Association showed about 84% of adults reported feeling at least one emotion associated with prolonged stress in the last two weeks.

The most common feelings were anxiety, sadness and anger. 

Chamberlain says there is still high demand for mental health services in Colorado.

“A lot of people are struggling in more ways now because it’s gone on for such a long time and there have been increased demands and uncertainty,” said Chamberlain.

The “fourth wave” of the virus could bring about even more uncertainty for those already on edge. State leaders identified this latest phase as case numbers are slowly rising. That trend combined with lifting restrictions may cause confusion for some. Chamberlain’s advice to combat feelings of anxiety is to acknowledge them.

“Saying to yourself, ‘wow, I’m concerned about being in public again, I’m concerned about what it’s going to be like to be in a concert or a restaurant without a mask on or be in a crowded room’,” said Chamberlain.

She encourages anyone feeling overwhelmed to reach out to a trusted family member or friend. If that doesn’t feel comfortable, she said not to hesitate to ask for professional help.

Colorado Crisis Services offers free call, text and walk-in options.

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