Do You Have Post-COVID Re-Entry Anxiety?

As more individuals across the United States are getting vaccinated, many of the places that were forced to close due to the pandemic are slowly beginning to re-open and other social distancing restrictions are being lifted.

For some, these are signs that the country is returning to a degree of “normalcy” and is reason for excitement. For others however, the lifting of these restraints can evoke feelings of uncertainty, stress, fear, and anxiety.

Those who are experiencing these emotions might be living with a condition referred to as “Re-Entry Anxiety”, which is characterized by the stress encountered while attempting to return to a normal lifestyle. Those who experience reentry anxiety may have feelings of uneasiness about returning to work or school, are uncomfortable at social gatherings regardless of the size, and avoid human contact such as handshakes or hugs.

Re-entry anxiety is not an uncommon condition. According to experts, nearly 50% of Americans admit to feeling anxious about resuming in-person interactions after it is acceptable to do so. The same research also concluded that those who were vaccinated expressed the same level of concerns as those who have not yet been vaccinated. History has also taught us that the number of people presenting with mental health conditions, such as agoraphobia or obsessive compulsive disorder tend to increase following public health crises, such as after the recent SARS and Ebola outbreaks.

There are a few things those dealing with re-entry anxiety can do to ease themselves back into social situations, these include:

  • Giving yourself permission to be anxious – Don’t judge yourself for whatever feelings you may be having. Understand that your feelings are natural, normal, and shared by many.
  • Starting small –Rather than thrusting yourself into an overwhelming environment, start gradually with brief, one-on-one interactions with a trusted friend. Try going for a short walk or sitting at an outdoor café.

  • Confronting your fears – If you are feeling anxious about something, it is best to address the issue as soon as possible.   The longer you wait, the harder it will be to overcome it.

  • Creating a bucket-list – Think about the things you have missed that bring you the most happiness. Setting a goal to do these things once again can shift your focus from anxiety to optimism and joy. 
      
  • Buddy-up – If you know someone who has similar levels of anxiety, work through your anxieties together. You can support each other and provide the strength to get through the otherwise difficult re-entry process.

  • Focusing on the facts – By relying on trusted sources, such as the CDC and state and local health departments will help you make informed decisions about the best and safest course to reintegrate yourself into normal activities.

While some may find these tips helpful, it is important to understand that there is no right or wrong way to overcome re-entry anxiety. We all had different experiences that affected how we coped during the pandemic; therefore everyone may have different factors that determine their reentry process.

For some, reentry might require professional assistance. The good news is help is available. There are many individual or group therapy options available either in-person or via telemedicine. To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s outpatient mental health center, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Understanding Virus Mutation

A virus is a submicroscopic parasite that is made up of genetic code: RNA or DNA, surrounded by a protective protein coat known as a capsid.

 A virus’ purpose is to create more copies of itself and spread to hosts.  However, viruses lack the ability to thrive and reproduce outside of a host body. In other words, “A virus cannot replicate alone. Viruses must infect cells and use components of the host cell to make copies of themselves. Often, they kill the host cell in the process, and cause damage to the host organism,” according to the National Human Genome Research Institute.

When a virus replicates, its genes may undergo copying errors or genetic mutations. This is a natural and normal occurrence and is especially true of viruses that contain RNA such as the coronavirus.

Over time, alterations to the virus’ surface proteins or antigens can occur through mutation. This leads to the formation of new variants of a virus strain.

It has been reported that multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “Information about the characteristics of these variants is rapidly emerging. Scientists are working to learn more about how easily they spread, whether they could cause more severe illness, and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against them.”

The CDC is closely monitoring these variants of concern and advises people to continue to protect themselves from COVID-19 by practicing good hand hygiene, wearing a mask, social distancing and getting vaccinated.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

COVID-19 Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

2020 has been a year where we have altered so many aspects of our daily lives. With the arrival of the holiday season, it only makes sense that we will also be forced to change the way we do our holiday shopping.

Normally, during this time of year, malls would be packed as shoppers seek the perfect holiday gifts for their loved ones. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our ability (or comfort level) to go to conventional brick-and-mortar stores.

To help you prepare for a very different holiday shopping season, Jamaica Hospital is offering the following safety tips:

  • Shop from home – Recent studies have indicated that nearly half of Americans plan to complete most of their holiday shopping online this year. If you plan to do this, please keep in mind that this uptick in online shopping could mean inventory shortages and shipping delays, so it is recommended to start early.
  • Look at alternative types of gifts – There has never been a time when do-it-yourself gifts are more appropriate. In addition to helping you avoid going to stores, they are also fun gifts to receive because they are thoughtful and made with love. If you are not that crafty, you should consider other gift options, such as gift cards, streaming service subscriptions, meal kits or boxes, or even making a charitable donation on behalf of the gift recipient.
  • Start early – Some gifts however might be best purchased in person. If you plan on going to the mall, try to start your shopping early before the holiday rush. Many stores have not waited for “Black Friday” to begin their holiday sales, so it is easier to find bargains now and avoid last-second craziness. Also try to shop at non-peak times such as early in the day or during the week to avoid the crowds.
  • Support local businesses – If possible, try to shop locally and support some of the smaller businesses in your community. These “mom and pop” stores could benefit from your support and they may also be a safer option than some of the larger, more crowded stores.
  • Understand the new reality – Many stores have put into place shopping restrictions and regulations for the safety of their employees and customers. This may include limiting the number of shoppers allowed into the store at one time. Some stores are even creating shopping appointments for their customers. While these regulations might prolong your shopping experience, they are intended for your protection so please exercise patience.

As with every other aspect of life, when shopping, it is extremely important to follow all safety measures when shopping. This includes wearing a mask at all times and practicing proper hand washing and social distancing rules to limit your chances of contracting COVID or any other transmittable disease.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Learning More About Transverse Myelitis

Transverse myelitis has received a great deal of attention recently as it has been mentioned in connection with the COVID-19 vaccine trials. To help our community better understand this condition, Jamaica Hospital is providing you with the following facts.

Transverse myelitis is a rare neurological condition that occurs when both sides of the same section of the spinal cord becomes inflamed, causing damage to the myelin, the fatty substance that covers the nerves. Loss of myelin often leads to spinal cord scarring that blocks nerve impulses and results in physical problems. Transverse myelitis can affect people of any age, but it is most common in children ages 10 to 19 and in adults ages 30 to 39.

The exact cause of transverse myelitis is unknown, but many believe it can develop as a side effect of a number of other conditions, including:

  • Lyme disease
  • Measles
  • Syphilis
  • Viral or bacterial infections

Other potential causes could be the result of spinal injuries, spinal malformations, or vascular diseases like atherosclerosis, all of which can reduce the amount of oxygen in spinal cord tissue.  Transverse myelitis can also be a warning sign of multiple sclerosis.

Some of the symptoms of transverse myelitis include:

  • Back or neck pain
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Abnormal feelings in the legs, such as burning, tingling, or pricking
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Heightened sensitivity to touch

Symptoms can develop over several hours or days, or over a longer period of one to two weeks.

There is no cure for transverse myelitis. Treatment focuses on relieving the inflammation that causes the symptoms. High doses of steroids, which suppress the activity of the immune system, are the most common treatments. Your doctor may also recommend pain-relieving drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen and plenty of bed rest.

Recovery from transverse myelitis usually begins from two to 12 weeks after first experiencing symptoms and can take up to two years. Approximately one-third of those with transverse myelitis have full or near-full recovery. Another third have fair recovery, retaining some of their symptoms. The last third recover poorly and experience significant physical disabilities.

Your doctor will likely review your medical history and perform a complete physical examination to confirm a diagnosis. If you are experiencing any symptoms associated with transverse myelitis and would like to make an appointment with a neurologist at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.