learn about COVID-19, its impact, and what you can do about it.
COVID-19 has raised stress levels for all of us. It has torn us away from our friends and our daily routines and added concern about loved ones getting sick and even being hospitalized. All this stress is causing difficulty focusing and sleeping while possibly worsening chronic or mental health problems.
In a recent poll done in the United States by KFF, 45% of participants reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress caused by the virus. This means that a large part of our population is struggling to adapt to this new reality.
Adolescents and older adults are more likely to have especially pronounced mental health effects because they are already at increased risk for depression or suicidal ideation due to fluctuating hormone levels. When facing mental health issues it may be tempting to try and meet up with friends in person, but try to restrain yourself from doing so, especially since mental health and immunity are linked. According to an immunologist at St. Olav's Hospital, if you are facing mental health issues, your immunity may be partly compromised. That means seeing your friends in person could be more harmful than helpful to you in the end.
Positive things for your mental health like meditation or laughing can help your body produce more of the cells you need to fight off disease. For example, different types of T cells have shown to be affected by stress. Harmful things like depression and anxiety can lead your body to create chemicals like the stress hormone cortisol that weaken your immune system. When high levels of cortisol are present in your blood the number of white blood cells in your blood drop. When your white blood cells drop you are less able to fight infection and are more prone to becoming sick.
If you are facing mental health issues, you can try to take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. You can also FaceTime, call, and message friends to ward off loneliness and negative feelings. Remember: 45% of Americans are facing some sort of worry or stress because of this pandemic. You are not alone.
HOTLINES FOR MENTAL HEALTH:
Written by Maddie Cowgill
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