Facing Anxiety and Depression

July 1, 2020

More than ever, psychiatrists are encountering patients who may have never experienced mental health issues.

Not surprisingly, many patients are struggling with quarantine and other aspects of the COVID-19 virus and the uncertainty it brings. Some people with no mental health history are struggling and even harboring suicidal thoughts. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll reported that 45% of respondents said their mental health had suffered, roughly 10% more than reported a month earlier.

Chinenye Onyemaechi, MD, a consultation-liaison psychiatrist, discusses signs and symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation that may be present in your patients. She notes that people who may never have sought help for mental health problems are dying by suicide.

Look for these and other signs

  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Missing work
  • Withdrawal from relationships
  • Recent loss of loved ones or job

Other risk factors, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol or substance use, can also play a role. Additionally, health professionals who are facing pay cuts, furloughs, and job loss, as well as social issues such as the rising unemployment rate, may be at be risk for suicide.

A recent article by Dr Onyemaechi reminds us: "The good news is most people who are faced with traumatic situations or disasters fully recover psychologically, and psychiatrists can serve as a reminder that we all have the inner reserve to eventually get back to who we were before COVID-19."