Coping with Mental Health Challenges During the Pandemic

Coping with Mental Health Challenges During the Pandemic

COVID-19 is one of the most significant public health threats of the year. Quarantine and physical distancing are necessary measures during a disease outbreak to protect those most vulnerable.

As a result of these measures and the uncertainty of the situation, many chronic disease patients and their caregivers feel isolated, lonely, anxious, and depressed.

Few studies exist regarding the mental health of chronic disease patients during a quarantine. One relevant research from the  MERS outbreak in 2015 found that patients with a history of physical disease were more likely to experience significant anxiety 4-6 months after the quarantine.

mental health challenges during the pandemic

COVID-19 Anxiety in Chronic Disease Patients

Those who live with chronic illness and are taking medications that modify their immune system will naturally experience high anxiety levels.

This type of anxiety is known as adaptive, and it’s a healthy and expected response to the coronavirus. However, when these feelings are left unchecked, they can spiral out of control and affect patients’ health.

High levels of anxiety can amplify disease symptoms such as pain and fatigue in patients with certain chronic illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

Strategies for Chronic Disease Patients to Ease Their Pandemic Induced Anxiety

The pandemic affects everyone differently. Due to personality traits, some patients will fare better than others. But we can all benefit from these key strategies to help us navigate through low mental points during the pandemic.

Accept There Are Things Beyond Your Control

In some instances, the feelings of anxiety and frustration a patient experiences result from them trying to control situations. During a public health crisis, it’s essential to recognize that many things are beyond one individual’s control.

However, patients can take back some control by learning how to protect themselves. Chronically ill patients, especially those who are immunocompromised, have an advantage over healthy individuals; that is, they already know the proper steps necessary to stay healthy and prevent viral infections.

This knowledge should serve to reassure patients they are not as powerless as they may think.

Incorporate Relaxation Techniques Into Your Daily Routine

Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are not just emotional conditions; they also have physical manifestations.

Incorporating a few simple relaxation strategies into patients’ daily routines can help reduce stress and anxiety levels and calm the mind.

Breathing Exercises

Many consider controlled breathing exercises to be the oldest, most efficient, and safe treatment for stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional disorders.

In one study of hospitalized COPD patients, researchers found that controlled breathing techniques significantly improved dyspnea, anxiety, and mobility in participants.


Taking a 15 to 30-minute daily walk can help clear the mind and provides many physical benefits for most chronic disease patients. Patients need to be mindful of general safety guidelines such as wearing a mask when out in public and maintaining physical distancing of at least 6-feet.

Patients should speak to their doctors before starting any new physical regime.

Know When to Seek Help

In these challenging times, patients must recognize when their anxiety and fear are becoming unhealthy.

The following are warning signs that patient’s need to heed and seek help for:

  • Anxiety is interfering with daily life in work, school, or family settings
  • Patient experiences new or worsen trouble sleeping
  • The patient feels an inability to enjoy daily life and have trouble focusing on tasks
  • The patient develops an obsession with news media regarding the COVID-19 health crisis
  • Complete or near-complete Isolation

When such behavior arises, patients and their caregivers must reach out to their support system, including their treating physician.


At Altus Biologics, we know how challenging daily life can be for chronically ill patients. We understand the added anxiety these individuals are experiencing due to the pandemic and the possibility of having their treatment interrupted.

That is why our staff continues to work alongside our physician partners to ensure disease management continuity for all patients.

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