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Mental health and COVID-19: Dealing with the unknown

Posted at 5:55 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 21:51:23-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — We’re living in uncertain times, and for those who suffer from anxiety, the Coronavirus pandemic is taking an additional toll on their mental health.

“The uncertainty does not work well for people with anxiety,” said Sarah Gardner, who suffers from anxiety. “I get very anxious not knowing how much longer this is going to last. It’s scary.”

Gardner is an essential worker. She says while she she’s trying to keep a safe social distance from others, it makes her particularly nervous, and triggers her anxiety when she still sees crowds of people at the store.

“It’s the fear of spreading in such a public environment. I can control what I do, but I can’t control what the public does.”

For Mary Jo Malczewski, she’s able to work from home, but says going to the gym was her outlet. Now that she doesn’t have a routine, it’s hard for her.
“It was my release,” she said. “I’m doing a lot of walking now.”

Mental Health Professionals like Valerie Nowak of Harmonia Collaborative Care and Dr. Jerod Masci of Landmark Health Systems have moved to a virtual health platform this week, seeing their patients and clients online. With the pandemic both say they’ve seen an influx of people seeking services.

“People who have never even experienced anxiety before are now experiencing that,” said Nowak.

Dr. Masci says the number one thing his clients are worried about is their loved ones, then the financial stress associated for many with this pandemic.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr. Masci said. “I try to explain to people that as with any pandemic, outbreak it can’t go on forever.”

And that’s the message he has for many of his clients who may be worried about the unknown.

Now says having a routine is key when confronting this crisis.

For those who may be experiencing anxiety during this time, health professionals say one of the best things you can do is stay connected with loved ones.
Counselors suggest taking a walk outside, making journal entries or taking up a new hobby.