Expert Psychotherapist Discusses How to Cope with the Coronavirus Crisis

Dr. Donna Marks, the author of Learn, Grow, Forgiveand Exit the Maze, shares insights about how to exercise good mental health during a crisis.

According to the World Health Organization, one in every four people suffers from mental health problems.

This week, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 40 million Americans are on some type of psychiatric medication.

People with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression must be on medication to regulate chemical imbalances in the brain.

Right now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, some who don’t even have diagnosed disorders are experiencing sadness, anxiety, loneliness, stress, and frustration like never before.

Marks claims that good mental health is taught in childhood. Few children are taught that it’s natural to feel anger and sorrow or how to express those feelings in healthy ways.

Over the years, these children grow up full of unresolved pain.

When they are unable to self-medicate or suppress those emotions, they wind up in a doctor’s office being prescribed medication – and getting the same message – it’s not okay to feel.

Mental health means balancing thoughts and feelings, social and alone time, and having the maturity to make good decisions even when we don’t feel like it.

We don’t have control over the virus, but we do have control over how we react to external events.

Dr. Donna Marks, The Author of Learn, Grow, Forgive, and Exit The Maze

“Mental health is like physical health. We can make healthy or unhealthy choices – they all produce positive or negative results,” Marks says.

You can choose to eat healthily, exercise, rest, and balance your lifestyle. Mental health is the choice to work through feelings and express them in productive ways. 

Pent-up emotions can turn into anxiety, anger, depression, and even suicidal states of mind.

It’s also a choice to be aware of thoughts and to act on the empowering messages rather than self-destructive ones.

It’s the hard times, like now, that challenge us the most, but those same challenges can push us to make changes toward psychological growth.

The world pace is moving faster and faster, and it’s conditioned us to expect immediate gratification, but we don’t have to give in to the darker side of our natures to feel better.

The quick fix distractions – eating, drinking, drugging, smoking, etc. – are not solutions and only serve to numb our feelings.

Feelings don’t go away; they simply get pushed down into the bottomless void that demands more relief.

Though we’re going through tough times, we’re in this together, and we need to stay connected.

Now, more than ever, we can take this current crisis when we feel the most vulnerable, and learn to be as mentally healthy as possible.

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