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INDIANAPOLIS — Social distancing, isolation and financial concerns can take a big toll on mental health. The Rebound Indiana is sharing advice and resources you can use right now to cope with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Mitesh Patel, a psychiatrist at Ascension St. Vincent, wants Hoosiers to know anxiety is normal, but at a certain point it is important to reach out for help.
"One thing we have to remember is that we all experience anxiety," Patel said. "I think we can all think of situations where we have had anxiety and it has helped us perform better or perhaps has helped us in our academic achievement. This situation is no different, except that, I think people can certainly experience excessive levels of anxiety where it could impair their functioning. So I think that is where I would draw the line. If it is getting hard for you to attend to your daily activities, then anxiety is probably at a point where it is excessive. Anxiety serves to alert us to important situations. Of course, this is an important situation with the pandemic going on, so we often have to remember that a certain amount of anxiety, a little bit of anxiety helps us as people. But for those people who are experiencing excessive levels of anxiety, there are lots of things that they can do outside of medications or you know, seeing a professional to kind of help work out what they are feeling. We are all going through something right now. These are unprecedented times, it is a very tough adjustment so, trying to be mindful that we are all going through this process and though it feels very bad. Humanity is resilient and we always have gotten through adversity and I think we will do the same this time."
One reason many Hoosiers are feeling extra pressure right now is because they are actually spending too much time at home with family. Although time with loved ones is always a good thing, some time away for yourself can also be good.
Dr. Patel says the first thing he recommends to his patients is exercise and then supplements to help ease their symptoms.
"Some studies show that as little as five minutes of exercise can help improve anxiety symptoms, especially for those people who have a lot of physical symptoms associated with their anxiety," Patel said. "Secondly, supplements. Several studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D, vitamin B, magnesium are implicated in anxiety so when people supplement those things, they often have an improvement in their anxiety as well. I think parents need to take time for themselves whenever they can. You know, this is a different time for everyone and I think taking a minute, five minutes, twenty minutes for yourself and de-stress, is really going to help with that frustration. In psychiatry, we call that a coping skill. We all have coping skills that we use for various situations, it is just a matter of employing those coping skills."
If you are feeling extra anxious lately, Dr. Patel says there are a few things you can do for yourself before seeking out a professional for help. One method begins in your kitchen.
"When people, right now access is a difficulty," Patel said. "When people may find a hard time getting in to see a therapist or a psychiatrist, I would recommend people try to do whatever they can outside of medications or therapy to help work out how they are feeling."
You can also rely on your phone for coping techniques. Dr. Patel says there are several apps you can download to ease your anxiety levels. Also, there are cognitive behavioral therapy appointment options online as well
Some of the recommended apps are:
- Breathe2Relax https://apps.apple.com/us/app/breathe2relax/id425720246
- Virtual Hope Box https://apps.apple.com/us/app/virtual-hope-box/id825099621
"Those all can be really helpful in helping people be less anxious by using those tools," Patel said." And since we all spend a lot of time on our phones anyway, we might as well make that like a productive use of our time. There are several companies that offer CBT through an online medium. This often does not involve actually talking to somebody face to face but more growing through a piece of software that achieves the same goal."
Dr. Patel also recommends biblio-therapy, reading books to help with your own mental health. Some of his recommendations include:
- Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns
- Siddhartha: A Novel by Hermann Hesse
Dr. Patel says if you are not getting relief from your anxiety, absolutely reach out to a therapist or psychiatrist. For those especially struggling, the number for the Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 or text "IN" to 741741. You can also visit BeWellIndiana.com.