February 3, 2021
The Global Pandemic Has Caused an Epidemic of Anxiety. Here’s How Digital Health is Helping People Cope
Lockdowns, bad news, social distancing, job insecurity—the global pandemic has wreaked havoc on people’s sense of security and wellbeing. For many, feeling as though the rug has been pulled from underneath them has triggered or worsened mental health conditions. Not only has this lowered quality of life—it’s also put additional strain on healthcare systems at a time when they’re at breaking point: Depression and anxiety disorders already cost the global economy US$1 trillion each year.
Services like digital health are proving a big help, providing people with emotional support in an easy, affordable way. As well as giving people access to a wide range of mental health professionals, digital health also allows individuals to have regular contact with an expert from the comfort of their own home—something that makes treatment easier and allows for social distancing.
How the Global Pandemic Has Affected Mental Health
Statistics say anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses affecting 19% of the adult population in the US each year—and around 264 million people worldwide. The numbers are already high, but anxiety, along with depression and insomnia have all been on the rise since the onset of the pandemic. That’s not just putting a strain on healthcare workers: stress lowers the immune system, which leaves individuals more vulnerable to contracting the COVID-19 infection.
Mortality was the initial concern when Coronavirus first struck. Then lack of resources became an issue, which impacted care for those with non-COVID conditions. Finally, mental illness, burnout, and trauma manifest as a result of months of strain and uncertainty (Image Source).
Isolation, bad news, and stress are causing mental health conditions and exacerbating existing ones—especially those living with claustrophobia, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), health anxiety, and panic disorder. This has a knock-on effect on physical health.
“Good mental health is absolutely fundamental to overall health and well-being,” stated Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “COVID-19 has interrupted essential mental health services around the world just when they’re needed most. World leaders must move fast and decisively to invest more in life-saving mental health programmes ̶ during the pandemic and beyond.”
The Importance of Good Mental Health
According to HealthyPeople.gov, “Neuropsychiatric disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States.” If left untreated, it can prevent the sufferer from living and participating fully in life. It also has physical ramifications: According to WebMD, anxiety releases stress hormones, which raises your blood sugar and sends blood to your extremities; possibly over time negatively impacting your muscles, heart, and other systems.
Living in a prolonged state of anxiety also increases the risk of individuals self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, overeating, and other unhealthy behaviors. This can then become a cycle of self-destructive behavior, which affects their physical health and can turn into a vicious circle. For those living with other chronic health conditions, poor lifestyle choices can cause symptoms to worsen and health to decline.
Leaving mental illness untreated can have devastating effects, but it’s never too late. Good mental health brings with it a multitude of benefits:
- We become mentally healthy, which helps us look after our physical health.
- We are more able to cope with life, challenges, and the symptoms of illness.
- Our relationships improve, which helps us strengthen our support network.
- We find meaning in our day to day lives and fulfillment on a personal level.
- We are more productive at school or at work, which fuels a sense of well-being.
How Tech is a Problem and a Solution
A lot of people are guilty of over-researching online to investigate a symptom, only to come away thinking they might have something terminal. Cyberchondria is a form of health anxiety that refers to “searching the web excessively for healthcare information,” according to the New York State Psychiatric Institute’s Emily Doherty-Torstrick and colleagues. It’s an exaggerated form of online symptom checking, and for those prone to anxiety, it can be crippling. Constant access to information—whether from media news or news from family and friends—can add to anxiety, making hypochondria symptoms worse.
It’s not all bad news: tech can also offer a solution. Apps and digital healthcare solutions like telehealth are making it easier than ever for individuals to access support when they need it, from those battling existing chronic mental health conditions to those dealing with mental health conditions in the face of pandemic stress.
How digital healthcare is helping people manage their wellbeing and mental health safely and effectively
Digital health makes it easier for patients to speak to a trained professional remotely. There’s no need to leave the house and travel, no need to take time off work, and no need to pay for childcare. Instead, a counselor or psychologist can attend to the patient virtually, making it easier for the individual to stick to plans and keep up treatment.
With increased access to patients and their health data, practitioners can more effectively guide patients to a healthier way of living. Digital healthcare also makes it convenient for patients to receive diet and exercise coaching—which has shown to have a direct impact on mental health.
With regular care, better diagnosis, and compliance monitoring, patients can take positive steps towards a happier, healthier life.
How ChronWell Can Help
ChronWell offers digital health services designed to help practices provide better care for their patients. Our solutions include Chronic Care Management and Remote Patient Monitoring services that make it easier for doctors to support patients’ mental health through regular and accessible care.
If you’d like to find out more about setting up a CCM plan, speak to one of our experts today.
If you found this article interesting, please share it on social media.