AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — "We are losing sight of the fact that this is such a strong mental health pandemic."
Dr. Laszlo Mechtler of DENT Neurologic Institute says his office is seeing an influx of patients who are dealing with severe mental health issues as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are losing sight of the fact that this is such a strong mental health pandemic," he said. "I have a case of a woman who is a mother of five children and normally doesn't drink at all, she is drinking a pint of vodka a day just to cope."
Dr. Mechtler says for those who suffer from anxiety and depression, uncertainty and with isolation is a toxic mixture.
"We made a huge mistake by saying social distancing---people don't do well isolated," he said. "It should be 'physical distancing. Our human nature is to be interactive."
Dr. Mechtler says recent data shows more than 60% of patients are dealing with anxiety and or depression during this time. People with nowhere to turn are leaning towards unhealthy habits such as drugs and excess alcohol to cope with this time.
"Unfortunately there are even physicians on the front lines committing suicide," he said.
DENT, which has a specific cannabis clinic says it's seeing an overwhelming amount of patients requesting medical marijuana or CBD products to deal with anxiety and depression during this time.
"When you're under stress and anxiety, you weaken your immune system," said Dr. Mechtler.
"I couldn't imagine going through this (COVID-19) without the medication that I get from them," said Christopher Shiller, a retired Navy Veteran.
Shiller says he receives help for his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from DENT by use of medical marijuana. Before that, he was taking harmful pills and alcohol to cope with his stress and anxiety.
"I used to take the drugs from the VA and they would make me tired and hungover feeling, with this I take my doses and I take it at night and I get better sleep."
Anxiety and depression for some falls under the PTSD qualification for medical marijuana. While you need a prescription for medical marijuana you do not for CBD high grade products. Dr. Mechtler says many are seeking this as a healthier alternative to deal with their stress during this time.
CBD sales is also considered an "essential business" so the CBD store at DENT Tower has been open since day one of the COVID-19 shut down.
"It's for everyone," said Dr Mechtler. "Talk to people. Do not try to deal with things by yourself and deal with issues that may affect your health."