The long term fatigue of the pandemic | By: John Shick, MD
It’s hard to believe that we are nearly one year into the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial panic and hoarding of toilet paper have worn off, yet for many the psychological impacts of the pandemic are still very much present and may last longer than the pandemic itself.
Although it seems as though things are slowly going back to normal, we are still very much in the midst of the pandemic. In many places, bars have reopened, schools are back in session and people are reuniting with friends and families for social gatherings. All the while, public health experts are advising against these behaviors. It is clear that people want to return to the life that we knew before the pandemic, even though the pandemic is far from over. This desire for life to go back to normal is referred to as pandemic fatigue.
It is common to experience pandemic fatigue and it is likely that the pandemic fatigue is triggering psychological distress. Specifically, people may be experiencing an increase in anxiety and depression.
Another facet of pandemic fatigue that many people may be experiencing is called crisis fatigue.
Crisis fatigue occurs after months of prolonged stress, anxiety, depression, and fear in response to the COVID pandemic. Crisis fatigue can manifest in a variety of ways including anxiety, anger, irritability, exhaustion, grief, or resignation.
It is important to manage this fatigue and take care of your mental health, all while maintaining responsible habits like washing our hands and limiting our social interactions.
How to cope with pandemic fatigue and crisis fatigue
Take care of your physical health - Eating well, getting a proper amount of sleep, and exercising, even if it is just going for a walk or stretching, can help boost your mood.
Be intentional with media exposure – Research (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32202824/) shows that prolonged exposure to health crisis media can negatively impact mental health (Garfin et. al. 2020). If you find yourself constantly checking the news, it may be time to take a break from your phone or computer.
Engage in activities that make you happy - Be creative, get outside, do something intentional that you know you will enjoy.
Ask for help - If you find that you are having difficulty sleeping, you are unable to do work and maintain your daily routines, and these coping techniques are not helping, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional.
To read more about pandemic fatigue, check out this article at Psychology Today,
To read more about crisis fatigue, check out this article at Healthline,
For more information on how to cope with COVID-19 related stress, check out these resources:
More Resource Articles
Locus of Control and COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing enormous stress for countless millions of people in all world regions. There has been no crisis of comparable magnitude within living memory. Individuals, communities, and entire populations are acutely aware of "loss of control" over their health, their finances, and their daily activities. The impact of "loss of control" on our mental health is made even worse by uncertainty over the future that is unprecedented in modern times...
Lifestyle Choices for Good Mental Health During COVID-19
Simple lifestyle choices can enhance mental health
Because of widespread unemployment and the closing of mental health clinics due to the pandemic, millions of individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, and insomnia do not have access to, or cannot afford psychotherapy or medications. These circumstances may continue for months or even years, depending on how soon effective antivirals and vaccines become available...
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity)...
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time...
Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness...
An eating disorder is an illness that causes serious disturbances to your everyday diet, such as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating. A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spiraled out of control. Severe distress or concern about body weight or shape may also signal an eating disorder...
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
All of us worry about things like health, money, or family problems. But people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them...
People with panic disorder have sudden and repeated attacks of fear that last for several minutes. Sometimes symptoms may last longer. These are called panic attacks. Panic attacks are characterized by a fear of disaster or of losing control even when there is no real danger...
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger...
Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)
Social phobia is a strong fear of being judged by others and of being embarrassed. This fear can be so strong that it gets in the way of going to work or school or doing other everyday things...
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Everyone double checks things sometimes. For example, you might double check to make sure the stove or iron is turned off before leaving the house. But people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) feel the need to check things repeatedly, or have certain thoughts or perform routines and rituals over and over. The thoughts and rituals associated with OCD cause distress and get in the way of daily life...