EL PASO, Texas -- The coronavirus pandemic can lead to feelings of fear and anxiety, as the number of confirmed cases grows locally and nationwide and unemployment rates spike.
The demand for mental health support has appeared to grow too. Calls to the nationwide 'Disaster Distress Helpline' have surged nearly 900 percent this year compared to last.
"It's normal to have some fear," said Dr. Fabrizzio Delgado, a psychiatrist with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso. "Irrational fear? No. That can become a problem. But talking about what's making you fearful or why it's making you anxious, that's one of the first things to do."
Dr. Delgado says the fears can be made worse by the need for social distancing, which can lead to feelings of isolation. He recommends putting the situation in perspective by reminding yourself why social distancing is necessary for saving lives.
He also recommends that everyone stick to a routine and regular schedule, even if many aren't leaving their homes. He also advises getting good sleep and exercise, as well as prioritizing a healthy diet. Plus, he recommends staying informed while also taking time to unplug from the constant influx of information available on television and social media.
"If the fear doesn't interfere with normal functions of your daily life, it will go away at some point," Dr. Delgado said. "If things are not going better once all this is done, once we're done with this crisis, it will probably be a good idea to see a professional."
There are several resources available locally and statewide. Locally-based Emergence Health Network is hosting Facebook Live videos with mental health experts every weekday morning at 10 a.m. for the month of April. Texas residents also have access to a free mental health support hotline 24/7. The number to call is 833-986-1919.