COVID-19 has brought health concerns to a whole new level. But the public isn’t looking at one of the most important parts of human health – mental health. During COVID-19, 2 out of every 3 Americans have felt anxious, depressed, lonely, or hopeless at least one time per week. One of the first signs of stress is panic buying. Supermarkets quickly ran out of common household supplies as millions of consumers were rushing in to stock up for the quarantine. Supplies like hand sanitizer, aerosol disinfectants, toilet paper, facial tissue, baking yeast, and alcohol have all had sales increase by hundreds or percent. King Arthur Flour even saw sales go all the way to up 2000% of the normal size, and Ammo.com saw a noticeable 68% increase in sales. Meat plants across the U.S. were forced to close, but as a result of COVID-19, demand for meat nearly doubled and quickly emptied store shelves.
High stress during COVID-19 can also cause rational and irrational ideas to become mixed up. The frontal cortex reacts rationally and tries to analyze the situation and long term consequences and plans accordingly, such as ‘I don’t need to buy another roll of toilet paper.’ The amygdala on the other hand, responds emotionally and encourages immediate reaction to protect one’s self, such as ‘But better safe than sorry.’ When anxiety and stress levels are high, these messages can become confused, making rational decisions harder to make. Isolation and quarantine may lead to serious psychological effects, including symptoms similar to PTSD. High levels of anxiety and stress over long periods of time can eventually change our brains – causing hypervigilance, fatigue, irritability, and more.