Life is full of adjustments: adjustment to a new schedule, becoming a parent, or living in a different environment; adjustment to life after the death of a loved one, or separation or divorce; adjustment to loss of employment, or of health due to illness. Today, as I write these words, our world is adjusting to a sudden, dramatic and life-changing phenomenon that has significantly upended our social, occupational and interpersonal functioning — the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sometimes the challenges that we face in adjusting to this pandemic lends to psychological effects: such as, (but not limited to):
Loss of interest
Emotional numbness is sometimes a response to overwhelming, unimaginable stress and the affiliated feeling of total helplessness. Effectively, emotional numbness is a protective screen from feeling intense emotional pain. This defense mechanism can take several forms, including avoidance, disconnection, or detachment from previously enjoyed social pleasures and activities. In short, one continues to function, yet feels an emotional numbness in varying ways and to different degrees.
The Diagnostic Manual of Psychological Disorders lists the following cluster of "Adjustment Disorders/ Stress Response Syndromes":
Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood: Marked distress, low mood, tearfulness or feelings of hopelessness are predominant.
Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety: Nervousness, worrying, jitteriness, or separation anxiety are predominant.
Adjustment Disorder with mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood: A combination of depression and anxiety is predominant.
Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct: Disturbance of conduct or behavior is predominant. (Children and Teens might show conduct and behavioral disturbances)
Adjustment Disorder with mixed Emotions and Conduct: Both emotional symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety) and a disturbance of conduct/ behavior are predominant.
Adjustment Disorder (unspecified): Maladaptive reactions that are not classifiable as one of the specific subtypes of adjustment disorder.
Such adjustments can be either:
acute, if the disturbance lasts less than 6 months
chronic, if the disturbance lasts for 6 months or longer
The Covid-19 pandemic has obviously exceeded this duration of time, leading many to experience anxiety and depression; such disorders can also exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions. Other mental health conditions caused and/or exacerbated by Covid-19 are Social Anxiety, Specific Phobias, OCD, Panic Disorders, Agoraphobia, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety due to medical conditions, Major Depressive Disorders, PTSD, Mood Disorders, and others.
How to manage?
(click on the highlighted words to link to related blogs)
Motivate yourself to live healthily. Exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep and continuous hydration are priceless self-gifts.
Surround yourself with healthy connections (virtual or social distancing). Have a support system and plan joy. Continuous lack of connections may make you feel emotionally dehydrated.
Grieve losses and find time for stillness.
Determine your necessary income stream and manage your finances adequately.
Don’t defer your dreams.
Practice gratitude (this one can change your life).
Seek psychotherapy services if you need help. Psychotherapy, and along with medication, -when needed, have helped millions experience meaningful and purposeful lives.
Let’s remind ourselves that this too shall pass.
We will get through the adjustments
Adjustment Disorders: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519704/table/ch3.t19/