Many of our ketamine therapy patients tell us that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a dramatic increase in their anxiety. This is understandable, but there are steps you can take to minimize the impact of the pandemic on your mental health.
- Physical distancing and social connection: While the experts’ advice to stay home and minimize physical contact are well-founded, it is also well known that anxiety and depression disorders thrive in patients who isolate. Therefore, until the crisis settles down, balance physical distancing with social connection. Call that old friend you have not talked to in a while. Skype, Zoom, text, email, and social media can all be used for support. You will be rewarded, and you will help each person you connect with as well.
- Practice self-care: Now more than ever, maintain the rituals that help you achieve balance and serenity. Exercise, eat healthy foods, meditate, journal, take a long hot bath, do whatever nurtures and sustains you.
- Stay proactive with your mental health: Maintain your weekly visits with your therapist, perhaps by video chat. Continue taking your psychiatric medications, including your ketamine therapy. Stay on top of it and keep a preventive mindset. Many of our patients have told us that ketamine boosts their resilience to life’s stresses; this is a time when all of us need as much resilience as possible. If you allow yourself to fall behind, it will be that much more difficult to pull out of your emotional crash back into homeostasis. This is especially true with unusually intense external stressors, such as coronavirus anxiety syndrome.
- Limit exposure to the news: Remember that the news media uses fear and sensationalism to increase their profit margins. Stay up to date, but do so in moderation, or your quest for the latest information will make you feel more anxious, rather than empowered. Additionally, try to limit your information sources to reliable authorities, such as the CDC and the WHO.
- Follow the CDC’s guidelines, but do not overdo them: Avoid crowds, wash your hands frequently, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. These lower your risk of contracting and spreading the virus. However, especially for patients with OCD and anxiety disorders, compulsive (rather than appropriate) handwashing will actually make you more anxious. Balance and moderation are key.