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Judson Haims: COVID — mental health and holiday considerations

Judson Haims
Special to The Aspen Times

These past months have been difficult. However, what lies before us could very well prove to be more challenging.

I am not a pessimist, however, the reality that COVID-19 cases are up cannot be disputed. On July 16, our highest peak in the U.S. thus far, new cases were at 75,687. As of Nov. 13, data from the Center for Disease Control had new cases at 181,196. Here in Colorado, our numbers are equally eye opening. As bad as April and July were with new cases peaking at 965 and 868 respectively, last Friday’s 6,500 pales in comparison.

What’s the point of this information? Buckle up. The ride ahead is most likely going to be more challenging — on many fronts. Stress and mental health may very well be at the forefront.

According to a recent article from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a “poll conducted in mid-July, 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. This is significantly higher than the 32% reported in March.”

Depression, anxiety, isolation, quarantine, lack of sleep, and grief will continue to have negative psychological impacts and cause a type of PTSD similar to that of other traumatic events such as the 2003 SARS pandemic and Huricane Katrina. For years after these events, the populations affected experienced a psychological sequelae.

Psychological effects of such traumatic events are often not immediate. Rather, traumatic events often cause a cascade of psychological challenges. We all need to be not only self-aware of our own mental health, but we must be aware for those around us. Unquestionably, the sudden and unprecedented changes we all have encountered will continue to for some time, and will impact our future psychological status.

The experiences of trauma are complex and affect people in many ways. Therefore, treating trauma needs to be individually specific. It’s a process that is best addressed and worked on over time.

Perhaps the best place to initiate getting help may be with your local primary care provider. Should that not be an option, there are several great organizations here in our mountain towns that can be of help.:

The Hope Center: 970-925-5858

Mind Springs health: 844-493-8255

Eagle County Behavioral health: 970-306-4673

We are unfortunately living in a time of great distrust and disinformation. Regardless of whether you find value or accuracy in the daily trends of COVID-19 case, the fact of the matter is COVID-19 is killing people at an alarming rate. Until a vaccine becomes available and people feel comfortable taking it, our only safety measures are distancing, washing our hands and wearing a mask.

Understandably, our patience and optimism is waning. The upcoming holidays may be one of our country’s most formidable challenges. While many may feel frustrated, intolerant, and deprived of personal liberties, a choice to use rationalism or denial are unacceptable defense mechanisms. The virus is real, and the effects are as well.

As you consider options for holiday events, please give a little extra thought to your choices and potential ramifications. The choices we make for ourselves, our family, friends and loved ones are personal and justifiable. However, in this situation, our choices may affect others in potentially devastating ways. Therefore, whatever your choices are, please be comprehensive in your decision-making.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt, and Carbondale. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or 970-328-5526.


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