COVID-19 anxiety and pandemic-related depression are making a comeback as cases increase.

Renewed mask mandates and the surging delta variant are casting a familiar shadow.

“I would say probably 95 percent of my clients are talking about this,” said psychotherapist Ami Bedi.

Bedi counsels adults and leads mental health discussions for local companies. She says the current rise in COVID-19 cases comes at an already anxious time.

“It’s back to school time, summer is coming to an end, and now we’re being faced with having to make some changes that we thought we were able to put behind us,” Bedi said.

Lakeisha Russell, a licensed professional counselor who works exclusively with children and teens, notices a similar trend.

“I’m hearing now many of the kids are anxious that they might have to do virtual school all over again,” Russell said.

Rates of anxiety, depression, suicide and drug use all increased in the past year and a half during the coronavirus pandemic. The fear, isolation and uncertainty is causing psychological trauma.

“When we know that we have a hopeful end in sight, we can tolerate adversity, but when we can’t figure out when that end is, that’s where we really have a hard time,” Bedi said. “We have to kind of surrender to the fact that we might not know exactly what to do or have all the answers.”

It’s important to focus on what we can control. Bedi says helping others in times of stress can actually help us.

“One of the best ways we can actually feel a sense of purpose is to step outside of the focus on how this is impacting me and think about the person who lives next door. Do they need some help? Is there a friend of mine who is struggling with this more than I am?”

Another key to coping? Set boundaries on how often you’re checking your phone and researching COVID-19 updates.

“If we’re showing that anxiety outwardly, our kids are going to reflect the same thing. So as parents, we need to be conscious of how we’re exhibiting our anxiety,” Russell said. “Talk about those emotions, because they’re normal and natural. And regardless of what you might hear, what family members might share, or what educators say, do what works best for your family.”

And take some time to focus every day on what you’re thankful for. Bedi encourages people she works with to reflect on pandemic silver linings.

“We all also have had moments of clarity, insight and joy,” Bedi said. “We’ve had some fun and connection. We’ve been able to reach into ourselves and find places where we didn’t realize we had beauty, strength or resources. Remember those things too.”

Spending time in nature and moving your body in some way also helps. But the biggest tool mental health experts go back to is breathing. If you feel panicked, take some slow, deep breaths.

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