COVID-19 Could Have Lasting Impact On Mental Health, Expert Says

Friday, July 10th 2020, 4:02 pm
By: Kelsey Kernstine

COVID-19 will have long-term effects on all of us psychologically, a local expert said.

OU's Chair of Psychiatry Dr. Britta Ostermeyer said disasters are typically confined to certain areas, resources aren't running short, and typically there's an end in sight.

“This is really very different than ordinary disasters,” Ostermeyer said.

With more than four months into the COVID-19 pandemic and a vaccine still months away, Ostermeyer said a rise in mental health issues is inevitable.

Ostermeyer said she's seen more in the emergency room patients who said they are stressed, more anxious, depressed, and consuming more alcohol and drugs.

COVID-19 prevents people consoling those in need, especially people who've lost a loved one.

"The longer this lasts, the greater the impact. There will be leftover precautions and people having their guards more up,” Ostermeyer said.

In the meantime, Ostermeyer said people should do everything they can to calm stress and anxiety like wear your mask and social distance to stay healthy.

"If you know you're keeping safe that should alleviate some anxiety,” Ostermeyer said.

If you're struggling with ongoing mental health issues right now like consuming more drugs and alcohol, that’s when you should contact your doctor or find a support group, Ostermeyer said.

The Centers for Disease and Control said some of the best ways to cope with stress is to maintain a routine, exercise regularly, meditate or try deep breathing exercises, and stay connected with other whether its online or social distancing.