COVID Pandemic causing psychological effects

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — With the country nearing almost two years of the COVID-19, many people are dealing with psychological effects caused by the pandemic.

As the omicron variant continues to circulate around the area, Dr. Heidi Dunniway, chief medical officer for Ascension St. Vincent in Evansville says she expects positive cases to continue as numbers come in from the holidays.

“We expect in the next few weeks we will start seeing a sharp increase in hospitalizations,” Dr. Dunniway said. “Typically that lags behind about two or three weeks, when we start seeing the positivity rate going up.”

Chronic stressors like COVID are what Indiana University Psychology professor Heather Scherschel says has caused anxiety and depression for many.

“Now that we have a new variant that seems to be even more contagious,” Scherschel said. “We now we have less social support from friends and family as people decide to go back under isolation because they’re worried about spreading COVID to those they love.”

She adds that when people perceive themselves as having more control of a situation, it increases overall psychological well being.

“The issue though is this is all being yanked back and so we could potentially see an even worse outcome than before because being given control and having it taken away is extremely hard on our psychological health and our physical health” Scherschel said.

Dr. Dunniway says they are seeing the omicron variant put pregnant women at high risk as well as other specific groups as well.

“One of the things we’re seeing with omicron is first of all a significant increase in the number of children who are infected and requiring hospitalizations,” Dr. Dunniway said. “That’s being seen across the country. We are starting to see more children come in with COVID and require extra treatment versus in prior surges.” 

Dr. Dunniway says Ascension St. Vincent of Evansville currently has 32 patients hospitalized with a quarter of those patients in the ICU.

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