May is Mental Health Awareness Month. That makes now the perfect time to highlight the rise in mental health disorders in the time of COVID.
Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are already some of the most common health conditions in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 50% of us will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some point in our lifetime.
Thanks to COVID, that number may go up.
Case in point: A recent study in The Lancet suggests that more than one-third of COVID survivors in the U.S. were diagnosed with a nervous system or mental health condition within six months of their COVID diagnosis.
Mood and anxiety disorders were the most common diagnoses. According to the CDC, experiencing an ongoing health condition can increase your risk for mental illness.
There is also evidence that COVID can affect the nervous system. COVID survivors also developed neurological conditions like stroke and dementia, though at a lower rate than mental health disorders. They were also more common in people with more severe forms of COVID.
Where and when to find help
Whether you’re a COVID survivor or not, it’s vital to keep your mental health a top priority.
Be on the lookout for any hint of mental illness. Per the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), common signs include:
- Sudden mood changes
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Increased or decreased hunger and appetite
- Relying on alcohol or drugs to get through the day
- Worrying too much
- Prolonged sadness, anger, or fear
- Having trouble concentrating
- Struggling to relate to other people
Get help if you notice any signs of mental illness. To find mental health treatment and providers in your area, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
If you need immediate help, try one of these free, confidential resources: