Americans have been in the coronavirus lockdown for a few months and its beginning to take a toll on people’s mental health.  The concerns about how the virus has up-ended our everyday lives have morphed into anxiety, depression, loneliness, and insomnia.  Studies show that alcohol and drug consumption have increased, and domestic violence is on the rise.  Also, suicides have increased as a result of the psychological impact of the lockdowns.  For these reasons, many people are turning to anti-anxiety meds during the lockdown.

Research shows that between February 16th and March 15th, the number of anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety or anti-insomnia prescriptions filled increased 21%.  The most significant increase was for anti-anxiety medications which rose 34.1% during that time frame.  It was also determined that more than 78% of prescriptions for the three drugs were for new prescriptions. 

Unfortunately, the increases are reversing a trend.  For instance, in the last 5 years, the use of these drugs decreased by 12.1%.  However, when the pandemic lockdown began, that downward trend halted and continues to rise. 

Reasons for Turning to Anti-Anxiety Meds During the Lockdown

It seems that we woke one day and suddenly everything changed.  All aspects of our lives were affected by COVID-19, and we are still adjusting.  The sense of isolation, fear of infection, and uncertainties about our future have everyone on edge.  Unemployment has skyrocketed and thousands of people have died.  The stress and worry generated by these factors cause many people to seek relief from their mental anguish.  

The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll in late March and found that 32% of participants experienced an increase in stress and worry during the pandemic.  Another poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association found that 62% of Americans are anxious about a loved once contracting the virus. 

Furthermore, these challenges are especially difficult for individuals who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.  These individuals may be in danger of overdose if they increase their consumption of those substances due to anxiety.  Also, people who combine anti-anxiety meds with alcohol or other substances are putting themselves at increased risk of dangerous consequences.

Overcoming Pandemic Fears and Anxiety Without Meds

It’s understandable to feel anxious during the pandemic. People around the world struggle with problems caused by the monumental impact of the virus pandemic.  Many are creative and have found ways to stay busy, feel productive, and control anxiety without medications.  Their approach to overcoming stress, boredom, and fear is to find healthy outlets for venting those emotions.  The CDC recommends these simple ways to cope with stress:

  • Take deep breaths, meditate, stretch.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat nutritious meals.
  • Avoid drugs or alcohol.
  • Make time to do activities you enjoy.
  • Talk with someone you trust about your feelings.

If you are looking for suggestions on finding support, assistance, or how to maintain mental well-being during the lockdowns, the National Institute on Drug Abuse provides a list of resources and answers to questions that should be helpful.   

Social Distancing Does not Necessarily Mean Social Isolation

We are fortunate to have modern technologies today that are designed to easily keep us connected with others.  During the virus pandemic, thousands of organizations are using various internet platforms to help those who struggle with anxiety, addiction, or mental health problems.  These resources are vital to helping a person avoid anti-anxiety meds during the lockdown.

If you were receiving treatment or counseling for mental illness or addiction, you can find virtual groups online to help you get the support you need.  For instance, the CDC has the Disaster Distress Helpline if you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions of sadness or stress these days.

Also, you should familiarize yourself with the warning signs and risk factors for emotional distress.  

It’s important to remember that you are not alone.  Everyone is having trouble adjusting to the extended lockdown.  Don’t hesitate to practice self-care.  Do something that makes you feel special at least once a day.  But, don’t forget to maintain contact with friends or loved ones.  They may need some support from you.  

Call New Beginnings if You Need Treatment for Addiction

We understand that it’s easy to want anti-anxiety meds during the lockdown.  But, will you be able to stop once the pandemic is over?  If not, and you end up needing help with addiction as a result, please contact us at New Beginnings to learn about our multi-modality treatment programs.

Sources:

nytimes.com– How Much Nature is Enough?

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov– Brain, Behavior, and Immunity

psychiatry.org – Help With Anxiety Disorders