Happy Monday and I hope at least some of you have the day off in honor of Columbus Day!
I am not sure if anybody saw the post on Saturday, commemorating National Mental Health Day, but I thought it was worth taking a minute to reflect on current mental health issues, which are growing.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which seems to be out-shadowed by Covid-19 this year. However, both diseases have had and continue to have significant impacts on society's mental health and well being.
I have seen many women through the years immediately after they have learned of their breast cancer diagnosis; they have been given a scary diagnosis and a flood of information, being forced to make such decisions as lumpectomy or mastectomy, immediate or delayed reconstruction, and possibly no reconstruction at all.
Some women may require radiation, some chemotherapy, and some both. While the immediate toll the of the cancer diagnosis in terms of fear, anxiety, and depression is generally enormous, sometimes the delayed emotional effects are just as great. However, lingering anxieties over such as issues of possible recurrence seem to be overlooked once the surgeries are over and once a woman's hair has grown back.
Nobody looks forward to a mammogram, which in itself can be very frightening for some, but as a result of Covid, many yearly screenings were cancelled and or postponed; I urge women to reschedule their mammograms! And while the pandemic rages on, I feel that physicians' offices and hospitals are well equipped to treat patients.
As far as Covid is concerned, the numbers in South Carolina seem to have plateaued a bit, and the death rates have declined. Hopefully, continued improvement is seen with the Covid situation,especially since treatment protocols are improving. I learned this weekend that the World Health Organization is not recommending quarantines. In light of this, it seems unlikely that lockdowns will again occur (not that the US follows the WHO these days!), especially since South Carolina is largely open. But it also means that continued awareness, caution, and sensibility is needed.
Continue to social distance, stay home when sick, wear masks, and wash hands, but please try to resume your lives. Just like breast cancer can damage one's mental health, the emotional effects of Covid are undeniable. I was speaking with one of my colleagues last week, and we were sharing stories of the depression, anxieties, short tempers, irritability and a generalized lack of kindness that surrounds us these days.
Maybe the upcoming elections are playing a part as well, but the social isolation, the strains on families trying to home school, the disruption in routines, financial strain, the fears about contracting the virus, and the sadness of losing loved ones are all adding up. This is reflected in the increase in substance abuse.
And while I don't have the training and expertise to give mental health advice, I can offer some retail therapy.
So in honor of the holiday today, we are offering our discounted gift cards. Hopefully the special will give some of you a needed little "pick me up." Call the office for details, and have a great week!
Dr. Heidi Williams