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Expert: Coronavirus Mental Health Curve Will Take Even Longer To Flatten

BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The effects on our mental health could be felt long after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

As CBS2's Nick Caloway reported Tuesday, there's a second curve that needs to be flattened.

Stress, loneliness, depression, and fear are now touching millions of Americans. Even what used to be a simple task like going grocery shopping is now a source of anxiety for many.

"I plan days out and check social media to see who has what and if the lines are long, or if they're stocked or not stocked, and I usually now hit multiple stores," one woman said.

"Very, very stressful. It's making my anxiety go up. I feel like I'm going to need a therapist after this," another woman said.

And she's not alone.


Dr. Robin Goodman is a clinical psychologist in New York. She said the pandemic has become more than a public health crisis. For many, it is traumatic.

"This is a time when people are witnessing or experiencing an event that can be potentially life-threatening, and cause bodily harm," Goodman said.

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Goodman said for many of us this is the most traumatic event we have witnessed in our lifetimes, and it's normal to feel a range of emotions.

"When we feel threatened, we may shut down. We may feel helpless. We may feel irritable. We may have trouble concentrating. That is all normal. Think about if you broke your leg, it would make sense that it hurts," Goodman said.

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As we all stay home to flatten the COVID-19 curve, the mental health curve will take longer to flatten.

For those who may be experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, Dr. Goodman has three tips:

  • Be aware of how you're feeling.
  • Acknowledge and accept that it's okay to have those feelings.
  • And, finally, act.

"Then do something. Maybe it's to distract. Maybe it's more screen time. Maybe it's go bake cookies. Maybe it's have a dance party. Maybe it's text your best friend or your mom and check in," Goodman said.

Since the outbreak started, physicians and therapists have rapidly pivoted to telemedicine. So, there is still access to care, even in a quarantine.

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