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Open Conversation: A timeline of the pandemic- its impact on mental health

Posted at 2:27 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 15:27:20-04

WACO, Texas — March 13 of 2020- COVID-19 changed life as we knew it. Businesses shut down, schools closed, and the unknowns were endless.

“In the early months of the pandemic, there was just a lot of uncertainty and fear,” Katie Chadwell, a Child and Adolescent Therapist, said.

During the first six months, the majority of people seeking therapy or counseling were experiencing anxiety. The world looked different and no one knew what to expect.

“It was something new for everybody so no one knew what to do next. So I think more than anything there was a lot of fear, a lot of uncertainty, and people acting out of impulse,” she said. "As the pandemic progressed, we noticed things getting worse.”

In the first year alone of the pandemic, anxiety and depression increased by a massive 25% according to the World Health Organization.

“A lot of people are experiencing depression and anxiety who haven’t before,” Chadwell said.

And while wearing masks and COVID tests became normalized, mental health was at an all-time low.

"Some things, we started getting used to like working from home and things like that, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, but I think that one thing that we did notice was a lot more depression, a lot more anxiety, people were very isolated,” Chadwell said.

From not being able to go to work, staying home from school, and being unable to see friends and family, depression was on the rise.

“We aren’t able to have physical touch with people, we aren’t able to interact with people in person; it can really do terrible things to our feelings and our thoughts. We just noticed a lot of people feeling so alone,” Chadwell said.

But now, over two years since the pandemic began, COVID precautions have loosened, and businesses are up and running, but the effects of COVID-19 still linger.

“People are getting more interaction with others, which is great, and they are getting back out and I think that fear is starting to lessen for a lot of people, but there is still this looming question of what is going to happen next,” Chadwell said.

And while COVID-19 brought on stress, it has also shone a light on the importance of being mentally healthy and seeking help.

“I do think people are starting to ask for help more...people are getting back to being more in-person; they are having more chances to connect with people whether it be a trained mental health professional or maybe just a friend," she said.

The most recent numbers, according to the CDC, show that over 10% of adults have regular feelings of worry, nervousness, or anxiety, and one in 20 have symptoms of depression.