August 01, 2021

Pandemic checkup

Charting a course for personal health

The COVID-19 pandemic stands out as the most disruptive and deadly crisis in global public health in a century. Now a new era begins, fueled by safe and effective vaccines that have brought optimism and hope for the future.

To make the most of what's next, experts say to be aware of health concerns that may have shifted down on your list of priorities during this time. Some researchers have labeled them "pandemics within a pandemic."

Read on for a number of common issues and solutions related to your post-pandemic health.

Mental health

About 20% of U.S. adults reported a decline in mental health due to the pandemic. This includes 53% who said that they were very restless and 52% who said that they sat around and did nothing recently due to exhaustion. Caregivers, especially parents of young children who were unable to attend in-person school, reported unusually high levels of stress and anxiety.

Next steps

If you think you may have symptoms of depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor. It can be as simple as saying that you haven't been yourself lately and you'd like to talk about it. Counseling (psychotherapy) and medications are common treatments. In older adults with mild depression, psychotherapy can be just as effective as medications. For moderate to severe depression, a combination of psychotherapy and medications is usually best.

Mental health apps can be cost-effective, portable ways to learn and strengthen your coping skills. Free mental health apps that may be helpful include COVID Coach, Breathe2Relax, Happify, Mindfulness Coach, MindShift CBT,...