New data show that Americans are suffering from record levels of mental distress.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, roughly one in 12 American adults reported symptoms of an anxiety disorder at this time last year; now it’s more than one in three. Last week, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a tracking poll showing that for the first time, a majority of American adults — 53 percent — believes that the pandemic is taking a toll on their mental health.
This number climbs to 68 percent if you look solely at African-Americans. The disproportionate toll the pandemic has taken on Black lives and livelihoods — made possible by centuries of structural disparities, compounded by the corrosive psychological effect of everyday racism — is appearing, starkly, in our mental health data.
Laura Bradley: If You Have Anxiety and Depression but Feel Better During Coronavirus, You’re Not Alone (The Daily Beast)
The coronavirus pandemic is a devastating mass trauma—but some people with anxiety and depression have seen their symptoms improve.
When I broached the topic of guilt and shame over feeling good—both with Cohen and Visceglia and, during several sessions, with my own therapist—all three encouraged me to embrace the personal insights this time has provided. The key, it seems, will be carrying this sense of connection and gratitude into the future.
Zeynep Tufekci: Keep the Parks Open (The Atlantic)
Public green spaces are good for the immune system and the mind—and they can be rationed to allow for social distancing.
Mental health is also a crucial part of the resilience we need to fight this pandemic. Keeping people’s spirits up in the long haul will be important, and exercise and the outdoors are among the strongest antidepressants and mental-health boosters we know of, often equaling or surpassing drugs and/or therapy in clinical trials.
If pandemic theater gets mixed up with scientifically sound practices, we will not be able to persuade people to continue with the latter.
Even if health authorities close some parks temporarily while they assess and develop evidence-based policies and best practices, they should do so with transparency and a timeline or conditions under which the parks will reopen. That’s the best of all possible worlds: The authorities will preserve much-needed legitimacy, and the public will retain access to the outdoors under sensible conditions that reduce risk while promoting health, well-being, and resilience—and we will certainly need all of that to get through the next many months.
Helen Rosner on Twitter: "One thing I’ve learned in therapy is that in times when the world around us feels terrifyingly beyond our control, we turn to small expressions of control over our thoughts, our bodies, and our time."
One thing I’ve learned in therapy is that in times when the world around us feels terrifyingly beyond our control, we turn to small expressions of control over our thoughts, our bodies, and our time.
Two big ways that desire to regain a sense of autonomy & control can manifest is spending money, and physically going places. If your aging parents (for example) insist on going to the grocery store unnecessarily, it’s possible they’re doing it to (unconsciously) soothe anxiety!
If a person needs to spend money and/or leave their house to feel a sense of control over themselves, telling them not to do it is a direct threat to this assertion of autonomy. Of course they’re going to push back, of course they’re not going to “listen to reason.”
So much of being the adult child of aging parents is the art of benevolent manipulation. (Sorry Mom & Dad, if you’re reading this.) Instead of telling them not to go to the grocery store, full stop, redirect their impulses — buy a cozy sweater online, take a walk through a park
There are ways to both spend money and leave the house that don’t put you or others at risk!
Sometimes people ignore good & urgent advice because they’re assholes or idiots! More often, they’re just scared, and don’t necessarily realize they’re scared, and don’t necessarily realize they’re making their choices in an attempt to calm their fear.
NB grocery shopping can also be soothing because (if the person doesn’t live alone) it’s not just spending, it’s spending *to care for loved ones*. Buying a sweater online doesn’t scratch that itch—in that case maybe the move is buying books or games as gifts for friends/family
This is especially ~a thing~ with many older women, who can have a hard time centering themselves when soothing their own anxieties. (“I’m cold, go put on a sweater!”)
I don’t want to make this all about older generations though! Those beautiful young idiots still packing into bars and restaurants are asserting autonomy. I usually hate leaving the house and lately all I want to do is take the dog for a walk, or go for long drives.
Our brains are always running background programs to rebalance and recalibrate. The best thing you can do is learn how to see it in your loved ones (and yourself! but that’s um many many years of therapy) and gently help them fulfill those self-soothing needs in less harmful ways