Mental Health Resources for Adults, Parents, Families during Coronavirus are listed below
From Linda M. Rio, MA, Marriage and Family Therapist and PWN contributor – At first, just about everyone worldwide was shocked, fearful, uncertain about the impact of a worldwide pandemic. In an amazingly short amount of time, our world has changed dramatically, and many people have surprisingly found ways to adapt to this new normal.
Staying at home, frequent Zoom (or similar platforms) meetings, living all day in pajamas, having no close contact with friends, co-workers, or even family has suddenly become routine for most people in the world. Several weeks into the pandemic now, however, some communities are showing signs that folks are feeling the pressures of social isolation. Some areas are even needing policing of parks and beaches due to crowds forming with some no adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Those lucky enough to be healthy the potential devastation of coronavirus seems a highly unlikely possibility, and they have most certainly tired of being isolated from friends, family, and interactive activities. However, for those who know the power of pituitary social isolation this is nothing new at all, and has lasted far longer than COVID-19.
Living without close personal contact isn’t normal for most people. But for those for whom the tiny pituitary has gone massively awry have by choice or physical requirements may have become isolated for months or even years, long before the coronavirus pandemic. Physical changes resulting from pituitary conditions cause some patients to isolate. Enlarged hands, feet, jaw, etc. experienced by some with a diagnosis of acromegaly, for example, can result in body image issues that can lead to secondary mental health issues such as major depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. Years ago, a man who told me he had been teased mercilessly by neighborhood children and even adults due to his different physical appearance. Due to the pain this caused, he chose to avoid all social contact and hide inside his apartment. I have also spoken to parents of adult children who had an acromegaly diagnosis. The parents expressed intense concern about their son or daughter living in their basement, having no job, no schooling, and showing no desire to leave the house.
We live in a very weight conscious and judgmental society. So, when excessive weight, particularly sudden, changes the outward appearance of a person, it is not uncommon for friends, co-workers, even family to automatically presume this is due only to a poor diet of potato chips or fast food. I have heard from several patients and family members that even primary care or other doctors have dismissed such excessive weight gain, thereby failing to see this as a symptom of something relating to the endocrine system. People who are shamed for their appearance, especially when this happens over and over, tend to isolate and withdraw from social contact. A negative body image due to pituitary disorder or otherwise can lead to a host of serious mental and relationship difficulties.
The examples here do not occur with all pituitary disorders, mainly if a proper diagnosis is obtained quickly and appropriate treatment accessed. And the impact of now required social distancing and isolation is not exclusive to those with a pituitary disorder.
For those who may have already had little contact or connections, the addition of emergency regulations may have an even more significant impact.
Of course, the reverse may also be true. Those who have already known little outside contact may now feel experienced or more knowledgeable, even “normal”. With almost instant media and governmental focus on “mental health” concerns due to the pandemic, some positives may result. Suddenly, it seems much more acceptable to talk about mental health concerns. Recognition of the prevalence and significance of depression, anxiety, mood disorders in addition to personal and family concerns of domestic violence, anger and mood swings, child abuse, and much more have been asked for by mental health professionals forever, it seems. It is sad that it took a pandemic to bring such common life experiences to come to light but wonderful if people can finally talk about such things and get the help that is available.
Today most marriage and family therapists, social workers, psychologists, and others have the capacity to provide mental health counseling/therapy online using telehealth. The sudden need to provide services other than in a face-to-face setting has been a boon to telehealth. Many doctors also can provide at least some visits virtually through a computer platform.
So, as the coronavirus situation unfolds the benefit is that even for those who have been isolated, unsure, afraid, or embarrassed to talk to a therapist might feel more comfortable now in a distanced setting. There are most certainly added pressures and challenges of coronavirus, but there are also many, many professionals and resources who are very much wanting to help. Isolation and loneliness can and often do lead to other serious conditions. Having a pituitary disorder is challenging enough without adding the feeling that no one is there to support or understand you. Here are a few resources, but many more are out there on national, state, and local sites that require no more than a phone call or internet connection.
Mental Health Resources for Adults, Parents, Families during Coronavirus
Centers for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): https://www.nami.org/covid-19-guide
American Psychological Association (APA): https://www.apa.org/practice/programs/dmhi/research-information/pandemics
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT): https://www.aamft.org/Events/Coronavirus-Event-Status-Updates.aspx?WebsiteKey=8e8c9bd6-0b71-4cd1-a5ab-013b5f855b01
Resources for families during the pandemic
Museums that offer virtual tours
Working from home with kids
Books (virtual) for kids about emotions during strange and difficult times (some available in many languages)
Linda M. Rio, M.A., LMFT (805) 619-0950 www.Lindamrio.com
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