How Can the Current Events in America Affect Overall Mental Health?

The COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, election chaos and the deep political divide in America have taken their toll on its people. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who have been affected by these issues, you’re not alone—and seeking mental healthcare could benefit you. As the country is rocked by once-in-a-century events, more people are reporting mental health struggles. Depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions have made it difficult for people to cope in Havre, MT, particularly as the pandemic restrictions approach a full year of being in effect.

The “trauma response mode”

Some therapists describe the country as being in a constant state of trauma response. You might know this as “fight, flight or freeze,” the instinctive reactions when faced with a frightening event. Many families are still struggling with the transition to working or schooling from home, for example. Depending on their personal circumstances, a person might see the trauma response manifest in increased anger and agitation, escapism (especially through drugs and alcohol) or simply ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away.

Obviously, being in a constant state of trauma response for a year or more is not healthy for the body or the mind. Your adrenaline and cortisol production (the stress hormone) are increased, which affects your physical body as well as your mental health.

On top of that, you may have experienced great losses during the pandemic. Over 420,000 people have died from COVID-19 as of the time this article was written, with thousands more dying each day. Each one of those people had family members and friends who feel their loss acutely. Dealing with grief on top of losing our normal way of life is enough to traumatize anyone.

What to do if you’re struggling

There’s no shame in having a difficult time coping with the state of the world. What’s most important is that you seek help, rather than relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms. The more time you spend worrying and coping with these transitions, the more energy you expend. This can leave people feeling physically and mentally unable to deal with everyday stressors, like crying over the proverbial spilled milk.

To find better ways to cope, there are two major things you can do. First, trauma therapists advise keeping a routine as much as possible, whether that’s for work, school or simply ensuring that you get enough exercise. Try to give yourself something to look forward to, like a weekly phone call or Zoom session with your best friend.

The second thing you should do is talk to a counselor. Working with a therapist can help you process your negative emotions in a healthy way, which frees up a lot of mental and physical energy overall. You’ll learn better coping strategies, and learn how to take care of yourself in these trying times.

If you’re having trouble with your mental health due to current events in Havre, MT and the greater U.S., call Ellen Savage LCPC today to arrange a distance counseling session with an expert.