MADISON, Wis. - As our nation surpasses more than 500,000 people dead from the coronavirus, psychologists say the stress of the pandemic is wreaking havoc on our mental well-being.
"If you’re a healthcare worker, you’ve probably had to see way too much suffering," Dr. Shilagh Mirgain, a psychologist with UW Health. "You’ve had to adjust your practice, you’ve had to be present potentially for many people’s death. And that can really take a toll on a healthcare worker’s emotional, or mental, well-being."
Dr. Shilagh Mirgain
Experts say it would be accurate to say the pandemic has not impacted everyone equally -- especially when it comes to our mental health.
"It has taken a significant toll on our mental health. We’re seeing a higher rate of depression and anxiety compared to a year ago," Dr. Mirgain said.
Psychologists at UW Health say some front-line hospital workers, for example, are seeing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And those who have contracted the virus...
"Between 14 to 90 days post-contracting the virus, many people were struggling with a secondary psychiatric disorder," the doctor said.
Experts say we are also seeing an unintended consequence of the vaccine being administered.
"There is also jealousy around. Maybe your friends and family members have gotten the vaccine and you haven’t yet -- and you’re not sure when your turn is going to be coming up," Dr. Mirgain said.
Whether it is "vaccine jealousy" or acceptance of life's uncertainty, doctors say you are not alone in feeling this way -- and there is help to be had.
"It’s really important to develop a tolerance for uncertainty," the doctor said. "Grief really needs witnessing, somebody safe to hear our experience and be present too."
The doctor said do not worry about "what ifs" and "maybes." Rather, focus on what you can control and celebrate every victory -- big and small. Know that if you do need professional help, it is there for you.