COVID-19 can be especially difficult for people who already had anxiety, OCD, or another condition. We talk with Dr. Christine Korol about the challenges faced by those who were already experiencing mental health issues.
Christine Korol quick chat coping if you are already dealing with anxiety, OCD, etc.
Let’s talk about coping with this current situation if you are already dealing with something like anxiety, OCD, or another issue of that nature.
It’s hard, and you’ll have to do this on an individual basis with your clients. I have a lot of people who are making terrific progress, whether they have social anxiety or a bit of agoraphobia, and they’re getting out of the house more. They’re back in the house now and a lot of them are telling me “you know, I actually know how to be okay in here”. So they’re okay but they’re worried about how to manage when this is all over. I remind them the learning curve will be shorter, they know what to do, that they can continue to develop connections and find meaningful things to do while they’re in isolation. That’s been tough.
For OCD cases, the patients that I’m working with that are afraid of germs or that wash their hands too much, we’ve been working a lot on sticking to guidelines. I’ve been emphasizing too that this is not like regular germs or viruses, this is not something we have an immunity to, and we have a very high risk of complications for other people. So we have to flatten the curve right now to help health care workers manage with the influx and protect the people that we care about.
So this is a very unusual situation and hopefully in a year, or however long it takes, we get through this dark tunnel and come out the other side. Another issue is that uncertainty, with anxious people, that’s something we’re working on too. Once we get through that tunnel public health will direct us to what is safe again. Many of my patients are hand washers, and we talk about how they’re washing their hands much more than surgeons are. So we try to keep it within those bounds recommended by public health.
For some of them, they’re still worried about contamination from things that aren’t high-risk for spreading COVID-19, which might be things in their house or they’re afraid of touching the bottle of bleach or other things. So we can still work on that. There are some interesting things you can do with tele-therapy. I’ve actually been using tele-therapy to kind of do home visits with OCD patients for some time now. That hasn’t changed, so I can still do things like exposure therapy. They can show me if they’re afraid of their laundry room, or afraid of cleaning their toilet, we can still work on that kind of stuff remotely.