As if death and severe sickness are not enough, the COVID pandemic has brought post-traumatic disorder to a lot of people. Many are breaking down because their mental health is suffering.

Others are binge eating and gaining too much weight, putting them at increased risk of contracting the virus and potentially developing chronic diseases. There have also been instances of people developing unhealthy coping habits such as over indulging in alcohol and drugs. Disturbingly domestic abuse is also at an all-time high.

Now, let’s look at these Covid challenges in more detail:

Mental, social and emotional health problems

Research shows that people of all ages are developing post covid psychological trauma. That’s happening because of prolonged stress from worry and having to adapt to a whole new lifestyle (the new normal.)

We live in constant worry that we or our loved ones might contract the virus. We can no longer go out and socialise with our friends like we used to. 

We can’t do things that we loved doing before the pandemic, such as travelling for leisure, hanging out on the beach, going to the gym, attending social events, amongst others.

All of this is putting a toll on our emotional and mental wellbeing, and people are now developing depression, anxiety and stress disorders in increasing numbers. 

Here are the emotional and mental effects that scientists are observing from people with post-traumatic stress as a result of the pandemic:

  • Loss of concentration – 76.6%
  • Boredom – 52%
  • Irritability – 39%
  • Restlessness- 38%
  • Nervousness – 38%
  • Feeling lonely – 38%
  • Uneasiness – 30%
  • Worry – 30%

Worsening of eating disorders

Research shows that people with eating disorders are likely to suffer distress. As a result, their symptoms are likely to worsen. People cope with stress and trauma in different ways and can worsen underlying eating disorders.

With more time on their hands, many people are also experiencing emotional and over eating, putting themselves at the risk of gaining weight

Note that if you’re overweight with a BMI of greater than 3kg/m2 you are a increased risk of dying from the virus, according to scientific studies. Findings are that you have a 33% death probability if you are obese. Now remember there are many limitations with BMI and body composition assessment is always a better indication of fat status (chat to your dietititan or exercise physiologist for an assessment).

Domestic violence

Many countries are now reporting a rise in domestic violence.

There is never an excuse for violence no matter what someone is going through. It’s, therefore, alarming when we see more reports on battered spouses and sometimes children.

A survey by NCBI shows the following:

  • There’s an up to 50% increase in the domestic violence cases
  • In Spain,  there’s a 20-30%  surge in phone calls relating to domestic abuse
  • The UK is also reporting a 25% rise in the problem
  • States like Alabama, Portland and New York are also seeing an increase of between 10 and 27% on the same

The scary part is that there could be a lot of unreported cases because of fear. People are at home jobless and may not know who to turn to if their abuser takes revenge by kicking them out if they report the abuse.

Unhealthy coping mechanisms

Research shows there has been a spike in substance abuse during the pandemic. People are turning to alcohol and drugs, which could lead to overdose and other unwanted side effects.

Most countries are now reporting high alcohol sales, an indicator that people are drinking more than usual (interesting to note in Australia during periods of lockdown many businesses shut down but bottle and alcohol shops always seemed to stay open).

With social distance measures in most countries, people could be overdrinking to kill boredom. Another reason could be a coping mechanism for stress, anxiety and depression due to job losses and living in fear that they may contract the disease. 

Economic hardships

Statistics show that one in ten people has lost their job during the pandemic. In addition, 60% of employed people have seen a salary reduction during this time. 

Some sectors like hospitality, such as hotels, bars and restaurants, have had no choice but to close shop due to lack of clients and lockdowns. People hardly have any money to spend eating out, and even when they do, they can’t go out to limit exposure. 

Conclusion

The pandemic has brought with it a lot of undesirable effects. There’s a spike in domestic abuse cases, alcohol and drug abuse spike, exacerbation of eating disorders,  job losses, and mental, social and mental problems such as stress and depression.

In our next blog post, we’ll cover healthy ways to cope with the above issues. We must acknowledge that we have a monster disease in our hands, but  we can’t let it get the best of us.

There’s a lot that we can do to live through it, without picking bad habits or increasing our chances of not only contracting the disease but also succumbing to its effects. 

Acknowledgement: Eve Carrie Writer

If you are looking for support to improve your health and wellbeing please message Dr. Liz on DrLiz@lincnutrition.com.au