It’s no secret that everyone’s mental health has taken a toll as a result of COVID-19, both for those who already had existing mental health difficulties and those who didn’t. This pandemic has caused many mental health issues such as low mood, irritability and depression, particularly during lockdown, but anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder tendencies have been very prevalent too.
As a person who pre-COVID-19 has suffered with contamination OCD, this pandemic, much like other OCD sufferers, exacerbated my issues, and as the pandemic went on and progressed, I noticed society beginning to carry out the compulsions I already did.
OCD is an anxiety-based disorder that causes obsessions about certain things, be that contamination, loved ones dying, etc, that turn into specific compulsions, such as repeated hand washing or checking electrical appliances.
Due to the increased anxiety surrounding contamination as a result of the pandemic, although it is necessary in order to reduce the spread, these aren’t far off OCD tendencies.
On one hand, it is awful that people’s contamination fears are leading to many people struggling mentally, however in a strange way, because of my existing OCD, I have felt less alone since the beginning of this pandemic.
People are sanitizing their phones every day, washing their hands more often and many other things, which is something that I, and so many other OCD sufferers obsessively do on a daily basis.
The issue with this is that when someone already has these existing fears, a global pandemic makes an extremely debilitating illness, like OCD, even worse
The issue with this is that when someone already has these existing fears, a global pandemic makes an extremely debilitating illness, like OCD, even worse.
Moreover, for the people that have never experienced OCD-like symptoms before, COVID-19 has created terrifying fears that are brand new and never experienced which is daunting and scary.
It is such a fine line because all these new cleaning rituals are essential and need to be upheld, but it is very easy for them to become overly obsessive to the point that they become OCD-like tendencies.
In no way am I saying that the new rules surrounding cleaning are not necessary because they very much are, I just think watching out for that fine line is important in order to be aware of how much your contamination fears are affecting your daily life.
Along with the increased fears of contamination, anxiety, in many different forms, has definitely risen as a result of the global pandemic.
Similarly, too with OCD, both people with an existing anxiety disorder and those without have been affected greatly, especially with the uncertainty that has been continuously predominant since the outbreak of COVID-19.
I don’t think I’ve spoken to anyone who hasn’t struggled with anxious thoughts throughout the pandemic because we have never experienced anything like this before.
All countries around the world have reacted to this pandemic differently but despite what each individual government has done and will do there’s always going to be uncertainty.
Another aspect of anxiety I think a lot of people struggled and are still struggling with is social anxiety, especially as we were coming out of lockdown. I know the first time I saw friends or went shopping I was incredibly anxious and so many other people were too.
As the government loosened rules and people were going out more, because of being in lockdown for so long, I think many people found it difficult to start socialising again. In addition, coming back to university for pretty much all students has been a huge source of anxiety.
Not only were students scared to come back, especially when we had absolutely no idea how this academic year was going to go, but there was also the threat of another lockdown
Not only were students scared to come back, especially when we had absolutely no idea how this academic year was going to go, but there was also the threat of another lockdown, along with other cities when students returned.
Moving to university, whether you’re a fresher or going in to your last year, is always going have its difficulties, and with COVID-19 happening it makes it much harder.
Even if you’re not a student, the transition of coming out of lockdown is tough, because ultimately when you have been in your house barely going out for months on end, it is inevitable that you will experience some kind of social anxiety.
Both OCD and anxiety are really difficult disorders to deal with, whether they be as a result from the pandemic or not, but it is completely understandable that COVID-19 has been the cause for people’s mental health struggles.
Despite this everyone is having to overcome the challenges that the pandemic has produced and a result of this, there are so many new resources out there with how to support your mental health right now, especially for students struggling with coming back to university.
Talk about your mental health difficulties with your friends and family, because I guarantee they will be feeling the same as you, and despite these unprecedented times stay safe, healthy and happy.
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