Dealing with Associated Psychological Problems of COVID-19
Psic. Beatriz Barron Hernandez - Juvenile Integration Center

May 11, 2020

For many people, the social isolation that we are currently experiencing due to the Corona virus is affecting many of their habits, thus generating some symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, violence, lack of sleep, among others, so I suggest that you identify them so that you can attend to them either by following the recommendations at the end of this article or if you need to consult a specialist, in order to prevent them from getting worse and making you sick.

Insomnia is a very frequent sleep disorder in the general population, which consists in reducing the ability to sleep and can be of two types:

• Insomnia of onset: when you have trouble sleeping before 30 minutes.
• Maintenance insomnia: when you cannot maintain sleep continuously, that is, you wake up for more than 30 minutes or outright wake up definitely early, achieving a total short sleep time.

Lack of sleep can cause you social, occupational or other important areas of deterioration. Therefore we must sleep an average of 7 or 8 hours a day. Although some specialists in the field, indicate that these hours may vary between one person and another, depending on the personality characteristics.

The causes of insomnia can be due to:

• Medical diseases: metabolic and hormonal, neurological, rheumatological, digestive, cardiovascular and all those that can interrupt sleep due to pain such as fibromyalgia, headaches, etc., or urological due to the urgent need to urinate, infections, prostate, kidney. It can also be due to pregnancy and menopause. and / or Psychiatric diseases: anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, etc.; as well as other sleep diseases such as restless legs syndrome (uncontrollable urge to move the legs), sleep apnea syndrome (breathing stops or becomes very shallow), parasomnias (sleepwalking, night terrors, nightmares, etc.)
• External causes: bad sleep habits, use and abuse of psychoactive substances and medications, shift work or frequent trips, etc.

If you have a sleep disorder, it is likely that it is aggravated by the situation we are experiencing due to the quarantine, or, if you are one of the people who do not have insomnia and have recently had trouble falling asleep, then it can due to:

1. Alteration of the light-dark cycle: If you are going to bed very late, you surely wake up later than usual, thus altering the normal sleep cycle. This causes the morning sunlight to lengthen the sleeping period. That is, sunlight is the key for the brain to know that in 12 or 14 hours it will be time to sleep.
2. Tiredness: normally during the day your body is more active and at night you feel the need to rest, but if you do not go out at these times, you have less physical activity, this will affect your sleep.

In this sense, we have detected that many patients are feeling the need to go to sleep later and, therefore, delay getting up, thus reducing productive hours at work (work at home or office) and family. They are also reporting nightmares, which may be reflecting the anxiety produced by uncertainty about this contingency: such as what will happen to my work? How do I get money to feed my children? What am I going to do?, etc. etc. So then, this sleep disorder is aggravated when there are situations in our daily life that increase our levels of stress and anxiety.

There are enough studies that show that people who do not sleep well increase their anxiety levels. They do not feel like doing anything, they lose interest in doing things, they lack energy and therefore it is common for them to be irritable, which in this quarantine can complicate family life.

It is normal for you to feel more irritable or to experience helplessness in the face of what is happening, because the feeling of not being in control is very strong. However, there are many other things that increase your anxiety caused by yourself, even though those may be under your control, for example ..

If you are working from home, you may feel more overwhelmed by simultaneously performing tasks at home. Not being able to disconnect because the work environment merges with the domestic one, is a very important stressor.

• If you stay in your pajamas all day, because you are not going out, this causes a disorganization of your daily habits.
• If you think: "I can do things whenever I want": I wake up whenever I want, I go to bed whenever I want, whenever I want. This ultimately "drives your internal biological rhythm crazy."
• If you are one of those who do nothing, your mood may be altered. It is certain that there is a decline, a sadness that is gradually taking over you, due to inactivity.

And well, so as not to overwhelm you with so much information, I say goodbye, offering you some recommendations that I'm sure you already know, but that unfortunately are not always carried out, so I invite you to commit to yourself for the benefit of health physical and mental:

• Keep a routine: establish and respect a fixed time to go to sleep and wake up. The brain needs to know when to be awake and when not to.
• Look out the window or balcony or wherever possible, to take a few minutes of sun and fresh air in the morning. Right now the early weather is very rich. "Seek to see something pleasant that will brighten your day."
• It is strictly forbidden to take a concern to bed: Think of something nice, even if you have a lot of problems. "Tomorrow will be another day"
• The bed is for sleeping: (well, it also has another important use, but that's the subject of another article, which has another habit). Because of the theme, right now you need to make the body link the bed with sleep so that it is deactivated when it reaches it. Therefore, avoid working, studying, using the cell phone while you are in bed.
• Avoid naps, but if you can't, take a maximum of 30 minutes.
• Exercise during the day, avoid doing it before going to bed.
• Relax as much as you can. Find something to distract you, clear your mind: meditate, you can do breathing exercises, listen to calm music.
• Avoid keeping awake. Entertainment is essential, but "skipping" bedtime for a marathon of your favorite series or checking your social networks will affect the time you will wake up, causing the alteration of your sleep cycle that I talked about before and correct it, believe me It is not always easy.
• See a specialist if you feel your sleep problems are getting worse.

At CIJ (Juvenile Integration Center) you can receive psychological support right now even if you don't have drug use. In Puerto Vallarta, go to Durango 479 Esq. Jalisco, Cpl Mojoneras, from Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. You can make your appointment at 322-290-0555.

Remember you are NOT alone! CIJ is with you!

Translated and edited by Team Angels

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