The unprecedented sequence of events that were caused by the coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone. With the official figures reporting nearly 4 million dead from COVID, and the real death toll likely to be significantly higher than that, many people’s lives have been ended. But even those who haven’t been infected with coronavirus or didn’t suffer too badly when they did, have suffered in other ways. People have had to change their daily routine in often very dramatic ways.
This has separated people from friends and family, made people unemployed, and increased fears. People may have had to deal with the loss of a loved one, and they might have had to do this alone. This has unsurprisingly increased the risk of mental health issues in people most susceptible to them.
Patients that were treated for COVID-19 also faced these problems along with their battle to survive the virus. They may have spent weeks in the hospital without a single visit from a friendly face. In the city where COVID-19 originated, Wuhan, China, doctors reported 13.4% of coronavirus patients with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Studies show that between 14.6% and 48.3% of the general population have suffered increased symptoms of depression.
Combating Increased Depression
Because of the measures put in place to slow down the spread of the pandemic, many people will have put off seeking medical assistance for anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. But once a patient does reach out for help, the course of action might differ in treatment to pre-pandemic conditions.
Treatments for Depression
Though, of course, treating depression in patients isn’t a new problem there are yet to be any specific guidelines for treatments in the wake of the pandemic. A patient might have a major depressive disorder, MDD, but they still need to be carefully evaluated before a diagnosis can be assured.
Before MDD is diagnosed, the doctors need to consider previous psychiatric history, including responses to treatment and hospitalizations. If a diagnosis is achieved selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, bupropion, or mirtazapine can be employed to treat the patient.
While these antidepressants can take 1 or 2 months to see the benefits, dosage and drug types can be tweaked to help the patient. This needs to be partnered with psychotherapy whether that is in person or by video link.
Treatments for Anxiety
There are also no official guidelines for the treatment of anxiety following the coronavirus pandemic. Individual therapeutic approaches that take into consideration comorbidities and the patient’s history, will help establish which drug treatments will be the most successful.
Benzodiazepine can be used for a short period though they can affect the respiratory system, a problem that isn’t going to help patients who have suffered from COVID-19.
Pharmacists and Telehealth
Pharmacists are able to offer important assistance to patients suffering from mental health issues. This includes using telehealth services to ensure social distancing while still ensuring the patient gets the treatment they need. This can help reduce the increased strain on other medical services providing help with mental health until things return to normal.
Physical exercise along with a balanced diet and the use of relaxation techniques can really help mental health. A routine is also important as well as a focus on personal well-being.