“There is this general psychological distress and fear that is clearly being felt as a result of the pandemic,” says Dr. Rene Samaniego, psychiatrist and psychotherapist at Makati Medical Center, past president of the Philippine Psychiatric Association and currently secretary for education and training for the Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations. “We cannot ignore it as our lives have been completely turned upside down and disrupted. We mourn our former life. We are all essentially in grief now and it is very complicated as it brings with it a lot of uncertainty. “Samaniego’s words resonate with many as the pandemic has put the focus on mental health. Isolation, lockdown, restricted mobility, economic and financial losses have all created some kind of global concern. “All of these things can negatively affect our mental and emotional wellbeing. This is what we would call the “psychological consequences of the pandemic,” which can last for years after it has ended, “he adds.

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Before the pandemic, many found some shame in admitting seeking help with mental health therapy, often left to those perceived as “weak” or “insane”. However, it has become more apparent that worrying about our mental health and emotions is an important factor in our overall health. “The formal definition of health by the World Health Organization is that it is a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being,” explains Samaniego. “It’s an important factor in how we deal with our lives.”

It also reminds us that external factors or stressors are not always the cause of some of the most common mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression. There are also internal factors.

“Depression can also be biological, which means that one big reason a person can become depressed is because of a certain biochemical imbalance in the brain. This is not a sign of weakness, but something that we can address scientifically, ”he says. “There are a number of patients who come to us in the clinics – from the overly psychotic to the so-called ‘well cared for’ people. They refer to those who do not necessarily have a formal psychiatric illness, but who are excessively and unnecessarily generally worried or concerned about life. “

The question that emerges is when will it go from a bad day and the normal blues to something you need to seek help with. “We usually look at how the symptoms affect our lives. For example, how do they affect your functionality? Because we all get sad, we all get scared, we all get stressed, we all get angry, right? But how do all of these symptoms affect quality of life? “, Replies Samaniego.

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He advises that the best way to get started is to check yourself out. “Examine your feelings and thoughts, cultivate a greater awareness of your inner state and be more connected to your body. It is not uncommon for mental health problems to manifest directly with physical symptoms such as insomnia, palpitations, and the like. “

This idea is confirmed by Sanaiyah Gurnamal, a life designer, wellbeing coach, thetahealer and co-founder of the Third Eye Wellness Center. “Think of the mind, body and energy as connected so that each aspect of us affects the other. When our minds are disturbed, we can work on our physical body by eating well-nourished and exercising, which has a positive effect on the mind. Juicing, cleansing or detoxing to get the body going are also ways to increase mind-body energy, ”suggests Gurnamal.

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