Healthcare practitioners are on the frontline of the Coronavirus pandemic, providing critical treatment to those who have contracted COVID-19 and crucial support to their families. As they engage in this often-exhausting word, these healthcare professionals are also facing a threat that can hinder their ability to support those in need: ignoring their own mental health and wellness as they take care of others.
How Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacting the Mental Health and Wellness of Healthcare Practitioners?
Although healthcare personnel are acting heroically as they strive to put others above themselves during the COVID-19 crisis, the very nature of this work could be harmful to their own mental health.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented loss for people around the world, and healthcare practitioners are no exception. Healthcare professionals are tasked with helping patients identify and treat COVID-19 symptoms and explore ways to prevent future infections. They are working long hours to assist patients, which means they are losing time they previously had to take care of themselves.
These clinicians are also working under exceptionally stressful circumstances as they come into close contact with COVID-19 patients, and anxiety about contracting the virus themselves or spreading it to their family members is a constant challenge. Due to this combination of high-stress working conditions and decreased time for self-care, healthcare professionals are increasingly susceptible to depression symptoms.
Depression can have physical and emotional side effects on healthcare professionals. Physically, depression can cause fatigue, back pain, headaches, and other problems that make it tough to work in the best of times, and exceedingly difficult to work under increased pressure. Depression can also affect healthcare personnel emotionally, making it difficult for them to think clearly, causing them to feel restless, agitated, hopeless, or constantly sad, and hampering their ability to get a good night’s rest after work. If left untreated, depression may even cause healthcare practitioners to feel despairing, worthless, and lonely, and to cycle through thoughts of hurting themselves or others.
How Can Healthcare Practitioners Protect Their Mental Health and Wellness During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Work-life balance is paramount, even in the midst of the pandemic. If healthcare practitioners do not have time to decompress during this challenging time, they may experience the physical and emotional side effects of depression. It is important that every healthcare worker knows how to detect the initial signs of depression in themselves so they can take precautions to manage any symptoms that develop. Healthcare professionals can also become well-equipped to identify the symptoms of depression in their coworkers, leading to improved self-care for these workers and enhanced care for COVID-19 patients and their families.
Depression can affect anyone, at any time, but people experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety are at a greater risk of developing symptoms. Depression can progress quickly, so if healthcare personnel start to feel overwhelmed by work, experience physical and/or emotional exhaustion, and/or are considering self-harm or harming others, they need to seek medical help immediately.
It may be tempting to try to “tough it out” during the pandemic, but healthcare workers need to remember that they must first care for themselves before they can safely and effectively care for others. Therefore, by meeting with a doctor to discuss their depression symptoms, healthcare professionals can uncover ways to cope with their symptoms both during the crisis and after it passes.
Many treatment options can be considered to help healthcare workers manage their depression symptoms.
A doctor may prescribe an antidepressant medication or a combination of medications to healthcare employees dealing with depression. Along with medication, psychotherapy may be recommended to give healthcare professionals opportunities to share their depressive thoughts and feelings and learn techniques and strategies to help them cope with everyday stressors.
Healthcare personnel may benefit from antidepressant and psychotherapy treatments administered in combination with each other or individually. They may also benefit from alternative depression treatments like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy.
Tips to Manage Depression Symptoms and Mental Health and Wellness During the Coronavirus Crisis
In addition to medical treatments for depression, there are many things that healthcare practitioners can do on a day-to-day basis to help manage their symptoms.
Self-care is vital for healthcare professionals coping with depression during the pandemic. It is perfectly acceptable for healthcare workers to take time to themselves — in fact, doing so is healthy and can lead to better care for COVID-19 patients and their families.
In terms of self-care, healthcare employees should spend at least a little bit of time each day doing things that make them feel happy. This can include anything from journaling to going for a walk over watching a movie to taking a nap. It can be challenging to make time for self-care during this crisis, so it is more important than ever to rely on your community for support. Do not be afraid to ask for help from your loved ones with simple tasks such as meal preparation or child care, so that you can continue to balance your very demanding work with the critical recovery time that you deserve.
Healthcare personnel must also recognize that they are not alone in their efforts to ward off the spread of the coronavirus. Even though healthcare workers may spend many hours at a hospital or other medical facility and limited time at home, they can still engage with family members, friends, and other loved ones outside of work.
Regular phone and video calls with loved ones may be more important now than ever before for healthcare practitioners. A daily or weekly call with loved ones allows healthcare workers to see familiar faces and process their experiences. Video conferencing technology also allows healthcare personnel to connect with their peers to play games online, enjoy virtual parties, and socialize with one another face to face.
Although healthcare professionals may want to stay up to date on the latest news about the pandemic, engaging with the24/7 coronavirus news cycle may be more harm than good.. Instead, healthcare practitioners may benefit from limiting the amount of time following crisis news to only certain times during the day or week. Instead of spending hours of precious free time reading news about the pandemic, focus on reading only what you need to know to stay up to date, and use this time to practice self-care, engage with loved ones or coworkers, and find other hobbies or activities to keep your mind off of the pandemic. This will be more beneficial for your mental health, enabling you to be a better provider in the long run.
Finally, should a healthcare worker feel like depression is making it impossible to work, they should meet with their superiors to discuss solutions. In these cases, you may need additional time off to decompress from work so that you can eventually return to your everyday duties at full health. While it can be incredibly challenging to step away from work, remember that you cannot fully support your team and your patients unless you yourself are healthy.
COVID-19 has put a major strain on the mental health and wellness of people globally. There is no reason for healthcare employees to feel ashamed, frustrated, or disappointed if they need to take time off from work to manage their depression symptoms. By taking time off to focus on their mental health and wellness, healthcare workers can get healthy and become the best versions of themselves. That way, they can deliver the best support possible to those in need and help their colleagues cope with this challenging time too.
Don’t Wait to Explore Depression Therapy Options
The COVID-19 crisis has put significant pressure on healthcare practitioners, and it is making them exceedingly prone to depression. At the first sign of depression symptoms, healthcare professionals should pursue therapy options. In doing so, they can find ways to manage these symptoms.
Achieve TMS is the leading TMS therapy provider in the United States, and we are available to assist healthcare practitioners in coping with depression during the coronavirus pandemic. At this time, we offer HIPAA-compliant telemedicine appointments for consultations, evaluations, follow-ups, and daily treatment in compliance with CDC guidelines.
For healthcare professionals who are considering TMS therapy, we encourage you to begin the insurance approval process immediately, as insurers may experience processing delays due to the crisis. To learn more about TMS therapy for depression, please contact us online, or call us today at 877-247-0101.