The Mental Health Response to COVID-19 and why we must pay Attention

I am very excited to announce that I will be conducting a series of interviews with child psychiatry expert Dr. Londono Tobon (@DrLondonoTobon, of Yale University’s Child Study Center.

As we enter our second week of shelter in place, it is very important for us to begin recognizing what a normal stress response is, particularly when we are faced with such a significant health, societal, and economic stressor. Only after understanding a normal stress response will we be able to detect deviations (towards an abnormal stress response).

Why should we care about an abnormal stress response?

A spiral-out-of-control stress response can disrupt our relationships, personal care, and work performance (think: arguments, yelling, divorce, unemployment).

An unmitigated stress response also increases our risk of developing severe illness, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other psychiatric disease.

In a severe and acute scenario, an abnormal stress response can lead to a panic contact. Panic attacks can mimic symptoms of COVID-19 and land someone into an emergency room where they may contract COVID-19. This represents a serious, but fortunately preventable, scenario.

An abnormal stress response can even weaken our body’s immune system and increase our body’s inflammatory burden.

In today’s crisis we need to recognize the importance our mental health plays in supporting our health and immune system, and how deviations from a healthy stress response can physically harm us.

Dr. Londono Tobon will refer to “flattening the curve” of our stress response. This is a powerful concept. To recognize deviation from our normal and healthy stress responses, we must first understand what that normal stress response is (while everybody has their own response, they follow general, recognizable patterns).

Please stay tuned!

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