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Multiple words taken from newspapers related to covid

The Relationship Between COVID-19 and Hypochondria

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on almost every aspect of human life. Lives lost, economic downturn, evictions, and loss of income have made this pandemic a struggle for many people all over the globe. In the United States, over 40 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and over 600,000 people have lost their lives to the virus.

A new cultural byproduct of the virus’ rampage across the country is “COVID Hypochondria.” Hypochondria, or Illness Anxiety Disorder, is a mental disorder wherein a person has an overwhelming and intense fear that they have or will soon be diagnosed with a serious medical condition. A similar disorder, Somatic Symptom Disorder, is anxiety about symptoms that are already present. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many of us to terrifying images of cramped hospitals, people on ventilators, and frantic doctors struggling to reach patients. 

If you find that you are constantly googling potential symptoms, worrying about whether or not you have a deadly and debilitating disease, or associating minor symptoms with major problems, you may be suffering from COVID hypochondria or somatic symptom disorder. 

The Effects of COVID Hypochondria 

The OCD Center of Los Angeles estimates that 4-6 percent of Americans suffer from debilitating hypochondria. The COVID-19 pandemic has likely caused this number to increase. As more people become infected with COVID, it is to be expected that more people find they are overwhelmed by the worry of becoming sick. 

COVID Hypochondria doesn’t just affect those of us who have had a COVID diagnosis. Our exposure to the numbers and daily tragic news exacerbates our anxiety of dying or becoming gravely ill. 

If you find that you are constantly checking your body for signs of illness (bruising, blood pressure, pulse, etc.) but you avoid going to the doctor in fear of receiving a diagnosis, you may be struggling with hypochondria or COVID hypochondria. This is something that many people are living with and is an understandable response to a traumatic pandemic. However, this type of excessive worrying and stressing can be detrimental to our mental health and our daily lives. 

Healthy and Unhealthy Anxieties

It is normal and perfectly acceptable to be a little more careful around public spaces, monitor indoor activities, increase hand-washing, and follow other precautionary measures. If you find that you are cleaning and sanitizing a little more than usual, this is a good thing! Putting a small extra effort into keeping ourselves healthy and well is different from an illness anxiety disorder, and the experts agree. Psychologist and Professor Dr. Craig Sawchuk notes that “It’s normal to not feel normal right now.” 

However, this presents us with a conundrum: How much worry is too much? 

It can be difficult to pin down what level of anxiety is appropriate. Clinical psychologist Trevor Schruafnagel states the following “It’s going to take some settling out in the — hopefully — months to come before we decide nationally and globally, what are the precautions we need or want to take in a post-pandemic future? What will the new norm be?”  Our new daily lives may be altered in certain ways for the foreseeable future, but these anxieties don’t have to overwhelm us. 

This is the difference between a healthy heightened level of anxiety about our health and a debilitating, overwhelming dread that consumes our way of thinking and can alter our perceptions of reality. Illness anxiety disorder and somatic symptom disorder can both heavily disrupt our day-to-day lives. The healthy levels of anxiety take a backseat to excessive, obsessive behaviors that can interfere with our work and relationships. Regarding these two conditions, Dr. Schraufnagel states the following “The distinguishing features of these as health disorders is that they’re persistent, highly distressing and impairing.” There is a fundamental difference between practicing new precautionary measures and convincing yourself that you or a loved one are dying or are gravely ill. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this issue in those that have been previously diagnosed with these two disorders and has also caused them to manifest in people who previously may have never had an issue with unhealthy anxieties about their bodies

Ways To Ward Off Unhealthy COVID Anxieties 

Experts and psychologists have been monitoring the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our mental and emotional health. Some of the things that they recommend that could help with diffusing unhealthy anxiety about COVID-19 include 

  • Journaling Your Thoughts – Keep a log of when you start to feel overwhelmed. It is likely that if you have symptoms of any illness (not just COVID) that they are minor.
  • Talk With Your Primary Care Physician – Let your doctor know how you are feeling. One of the symptoms of hypochondria is avoiding the doctor, but pushing past this for your own peace of mind can help you rationalize your thoughts.
  • Speak With A Mental Health Professional – Talking with a therapist can help you compartmentalize and rationalize your concerns.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread panic and uncertainty. It has affected nearly every aspect of human life. This includes exacerbating the problems caused by previously diagnosed anxiety disorders and causing others to suffer from new and overwhelming anxieties. Our team of caring and knowledgeable professionals is here to help you create a plan to take back control of your mental and emotional health. When anxieties about our health become unhealthy themselves, it is never inappropriate to ask for help. Our members have access to a wide array of services. At Achieve Concierge, you can get same-day help if you find that the anxieties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have become too much to bear. We also offer telehealth services to those who are concerned about coming into close contact with others. If you are struggling with COVID anxiety, don’t hesitate, reach out to us by phone today at +1  (858) 221-0344.

 

 

social distancing covid 19

Returning to Work Post-COVID-19

Throughout the world, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically affect the lives of individuals. As our communities continue to reopen, many people are struggling to enter back into the workforce without any negative emotions. 

 

When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, hundreds of millions of people were forced to lockdown, abruptly transition to working from home, or for those that did not have that option, lose their jobs entirely.

 

For months the future looked and felt uncertain for so many people, and in some respects it still does. Even with a large portion of the U.S. population receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, the fear of returning to work and potentially being exposed lingers. 

 

As we all transition into this new normal, and as businesses start to bring back their employees, many individuals returning to work are struggling to feel safe. After more than a year of either not working, or working remotely, many employees are experiencing return-to-work anxiety coupled with stress at the thought of returning to an office setting. After all, for over a year, people have been repeatedly advised how deadly this virus is and how important it is to social distance. The thought of being close to others is terrifying for some individuals. Employees are inquiring as to what steps their employers are taking to keep them safe as they transition back to work amid a pandemic? We’ve compiled some information to help both employees and employers as we ease back into the workplace. 

What is the Risk of COVID-19 Contact in the Workplace?

 

The risk of exposure to COVID-19 depends on the likelihood of coming into prolonged, close contact with others, having frequent physical interaction with others who may be infected with the virus, as well as coming into contact with contaminated surfaces and objects. 

Are There Preventative Measures a Person Can Take to Avoid Exposure?

 

Many employers are seeking the support of an occupational health and safety advisor to carry out a rapid risk assessment. This is used for determining their staff’s exposure risk to implement preventative measures. Before returning to work, verify what, if any, preventative measures your employer has created. 

 

The WHO has created key measures that all employers should be implementing regardless of the industry. They include frequent hand-washing, disinfecting stations with alcohol-based hand sanitizer, respiratory hygiene (covering coughs, physical distancing, wearing face coverings, regular environmental cleaning, and disinfection, and limiting unnecessary travel). Employers should create and implement clear policies, training, and education for all staff members to inform them of COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, employers must encourage unwell workers or anyone who develops symptoms to stay home, self-isolate, and contact a medical professional immediately. Providing employees with COVID-19 information such as testing centers is a great way to keep employees informed. 

The Rights, Duties, and Responsibilities of Employers and Employees

 

Employers, workers, and their organizations should strive to collaborate with health authorities to help prevent and control COVID-19. Employers should implement measures that prevent and mitigate exposures at the workplace while also providing personal protective equipment determined necessary through the risk assessment. To protect workers at higher risk such as those ages 60 and over, or those with underlying medical conditions, special measures should be taken.

 

Workers must follow the measures for occupational safety and health to help control the spread of COVID within the workplace. Workers have the right to remove themselves from any work situation that presents an imminent and serious danger to their life or health and must be protected from any unseemly consequences.

Tips to Overcome Return-to-Work Anxiety

 

Plan Ahead. As you transition back to work, finding some control over the uncertainty can help ease your anxiety. These can be simple things such as revisiting your work wardrobe, prepping your lunch, or organizing any work-related items. 

 

Find the Good. This transition can be nerve-wracking, but do your best to seek the good in returning to work to help boost hope and optimism which in turn can help quiet your worry and anxiety. Think about the coworkers that you have missed or the customer’s smiles that brighten your day. 

 

Talk About It. Find your person and vent away or start utilizing a journal. Expressing our feelings is a great way to help ease our worries and anxieties about what we are feeling. It is easy to get lost in our thoughts and emotions, so we need to make time to express ourselves. Remember your feelings matter. Feel those feelings, but find a way to release them and not be consumed by them. 

 

As the world seeks some normalcy, many people are feeling anxious and uncomfortable to return to anything. Many individuals are returning to work full-time, forced to be near people – people they have been told to avoid for over a year. It is no wonder so many are consumed with negative emotions as they transition back to the workforce. Anxiety and stress are normal reactions to heavy situations. It is important to find outlets to help ease those stresses and worries such as knowing your rights as an employee and asking the right questions. Your safety within the workplace is vital and a requirement. When employers and employees work together to find measures that keep each person sane and safe, it creates a workspace that is much easier to come back to. If you are struggling with negative emotions due to COVID, reach out to Achieve Medical Concierge today. Call today (858) 221-0344.

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Remote Learning and Its Effects on Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many of us who now work remotely. The pandemic has also led to remote learning for our school-aged children and young adults who attend college. Some areas around the country closed schools in March 2020 and have not opened since then. While following COVID-19 protocols is necessary, the absence of being in a school surrounded by peers is taking a toll on our children’s mental health.

The Social Impact of Remote Learning on Children

The shift from in-person to remote learning has been challenging for many children and young adults. Being in school and learning in a classroom setting is more practical for academic and social development. Attending virtual classes has made many kids feel isolated, alone, and even scared. For children who already have mental health complications, remote learning can increase depression and anxiety.

Many children rely on schools for mental and behavioral health services. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), before COVID-19, an estimated one in five U.S. children experienced a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. These included anxiety, depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and disruptive behavioral disorders. However, only about 20% of children receive care from a specialized mental health provider. Without access to these services, mental health conditions and behavioral disorders can worsen.

Many children and adolescents cannot participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs, with school closures. Many kids will not attend events, including prom, school fairs, or school field trips. For many others, school meals may be the only meal they receive throughout the day. Some could be home alone during the day as parents leave for work.

The social impact of remote learning on children can be devastating. Teachers who were able to identify whether a child is abused or neglected at home might have a more difficult time reaching that observation in an online classroom. Mental health can rapidly decline, putting a child at risk of self-harm, depression, and anxiety.  

Mental Health Conditions

Depression is debilitating and can make you feel alone, tired, and unmotivated. When children suffer from depression, they can become withdrawn or show physical symptoms, such as aches and pains. Some of the symptoms of depression in children include:

  • Loss of interest
  • Problems concentrating
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Aggression or angry outbursts
  • Hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Talking about death

Some symptoms of depression can mimic other psychiatric conditions, such as ADHD or anxiety disorders. Before 2020, there was already evidence that young people’s mental health problems were increasing. The 12-month prevalence of a major depressive disorder in U.S. adolescents increased from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.3% in 2014.

Staying energized and motivated in a distance-learning model can be very challenging. Younger children who need supervision can quickly get distracted and not perform well in an online environment. Teens and older children miss socializing with friends as they usually would before the pandemic. Remote learning can make kids feel disconnected and anxious about their future in an educational environment.

Anyone can develop a mental health disorder or behavioral problem. Teens and adolescents who struggle with mental health issues are at high risk of turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms. Drug and alcohol use can lead to a substance use disorder (SUD). Certain drugs and alcohol can worsen mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Using substances to cope can cause serious health risks, including heart attack, liver failure, overdose, or death.

Ways to Improve Mental Health

Remote learning can make kids less active than they usually would be if they were attending school in-person. Inactivity and sitting still for long periods throughout the day can be difficult, especially for kids who struggle with ADHD. Parents can encourage their children to use time n between classes to stand up, walk around, and go outside for some fresh air if weather permits.

Physical activity can significantly improve a child’s mental health. Young people who exercise regularly have lower levels of depression, stress, psychological distress, higher levels of a positive self-image, life satisfaction, and psychological well-being. Regular exercise and staying active can also improve behavior, including those with behavioral disorders, such as ADHD. 

Youth Mental Health Services

The COVID-19 pandemic impacts young children and teens, and remote learning makes them susceptible to feeling isolated, putting them at risk of developing mental health complications. If left untreated, these symptoms can worsen or last well into adulthood.

Youth mental health services are available at Achieve Concierge. They can include medication, psychotherapy, or both to help a child or teen who experiences depression, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms. Also, alternative therapies like music or art therapy, meditation, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques may be used as part of a mood disorder treatment program for a child or teen.

If social isolation and remote learning affect your child or teen, do not hesitate to ask for help. At Achieve Concierge, we want to help your child or teen find ways to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team of dedicated professionals can help identify a treatment plan based on your child’s needs.

 

Remote learning for children and young adolescents has been necessary for some parts of the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Isolation and distance learning can significantly impact academic and social development, which can increase f anxiety and depression symptoms. We can help your child or teen find ways to cope, and our team of clinicians is dedicated to developing the best option for your child’s needs. Each child who struggles with mental health symptoms responds differently to treatment. At Achieve Concierge, we offer youth mental health services to help ease anxiety and depression. We offer same-day appointments in person, and appointments with all our providers can be made via telemedicine. We take a holistic approach to treatment and want to help by determining the best course of action to treat your child’s mental health symptoms. To find out more about our services and treatment plans, call Achieve Concierge at (858) 221-0344.