Tuesday, February 7, 2023
HomeHealthcarePandemic led to an increase in the search for therapy and crowded...

Pandemic led to an increase in the search for therapy and crowded schedules


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When the Covid-19 pandemic was decreed, in March 2020, families began to live indoors at a frequency previously unimaginable. Fear of death, widespread insecurity and increased anxiety made people run in search of psychologists.

In the worst moments of the crisis that killed more than 660,000 Brazilians, patients in social isolation, with a house full of family members, huddled in the bathrooms or resorted to car seats for online therapy.

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After a period of busy schedules and patients in despair, experts analyze that, now, people are starting to leave the “biological survival” mode aside and are going through a moment of reflection on what has changed in the last two years. It is the time to experience grief, both for people who died and for projects that were discontinued.

Today, psychologists note that the agenda is more stabilized than at the beginning of the pandemic. The profile of those seeking therapy has also changed. Before, the search took place in the “emergency room” style, in which patients needed to be heard urgently.

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“Now, people are more settled. The scare is over and the fear is starting to increase”, analyzes psychoanalyst Blenda de Oliveira. “But some people are still a little afraid and suspicious. After all, they still don’t know how long the resurgence of the pandemic will last”, ponders the professional, who cites the lockdown that took place in China in early April.

After a frightening period, reflects Blenda, it is common for most people to be, as the saying goes, like “a scalded cat that is afraid of cold water”. quite reasonable and everyone has to go at their own pace,” she says.

A survey by the ABPS (Brazilian Association of Health Psychology) points out that 83.5% of the psychologists heard noticed an increase in patient demand during the pandemic. In addition, 86% perceived that patients had an increase in distress during the period.

The survey has so far heard from 121 experts, between October 2020 and February 2021. And also during October and December 2021. Now, a third round is in the process of being analyzed.

Miria Benincasa, secretary of the association and who is in charge of the survey, says that the health crisis served to make psychology a therapy of first necessity.

“This did not just happen in private offices, but there was a request for the psychologist to enter to work with families with hospitalized relatives who did not have access to information. Mental suffering accompanied both those who were inside and those who were outside”, he says.

“During the pandemic, psychologists ran out of hours. Today, this scenario is stabilized”, calculates the secretary, reporting that it was common to notice offices of newly graduated professionals also without free time on the agenda. “That was unheard of.”

Another survey, carried out by the American newspaper The New York Times, which surveyed 1,320 mental health professionals, showed a similar scenario. Published in December 2021, the survey found that nine out of ten therapists confirmed that the number of patients was increasing.

Most professionals also reported that they face longer waiting lists and difficulty meeting patient demand. The search, most of the time, happens due to anxiety and depression, but family and relationship problems dominate the conversations.

“It seems to me that social isolation brought up historical conflicts that were diluted in the routine of life and required less attention. Now, isolation has made these problems demand that attention”, says Benincasa.

Although the return of life to face-to-face life is necessary, this is not an easy process, experts explain. Many people are finding it difficult to resume interaction.

Anna Carolina Bianco, vice president of the Federal Council of Psychology, mentions that, for young people, the return is particularly difficult. “It’s like having to start over, with the resumption of face-to-face classes and personal contact, and we see difficulties in this, such as cases of phobia”, she says.

An example is that, according to data from the São Paulo Department of Education, in the first two months of school this year, 4,021 cases of physical aggression were recorded in state units — 48.5% more than in the same period in 2019, the last year in that students attended face-to-face classes every day.

Another profile that has also suffered from the resumption of face-to-face life includes people who have gotten used to working remotely, says the psychologist. “There has been a loss of social ties and it is not possible to support everyone away. This return is necessary”.

Another portion of the population that can also suffer from the return of face-to-face life is that of children. Psychologist Elda Silva, who works at Clínica Psicólogos in São Paulo, analyzes that the younger the child is, the easier it is for him to adapt. “From the age of seven, they have a greater difficulty. There was an abrupt change. At one point they were at school, then they went home and now they have returned to socializing. This creates insecurity.”

The insecurity may be linked to the fact that, in the midst of the worst pandemic moments, people have learned to manage indoors. At that time, explains Marcelo Santos, a psychologist and professor at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, people had control over the situation by staying at home. Now, that’s been lost.

He states that he perceives, today, a more evident alteration of mood combined with a certain melancholy.
“People will naturally have to relearn social tact, but the complaint is this: ‘Wow, but I’m going to have to go to work, I’m going to have to interact with people, I’m going to have to take traffic again?'”

“You see these people having to make an extra effort to get back to the relationships they had before,” he says, after all, in person we are forced to talk to who we like, who we don’t like and everything that was avoided in two years.

Pablo Castanho, a professor at Ipusp (Institute of Psychology at the University of São Paulo), analyzes that it is now common for people to experience processes that were avoided in isolation, such as grief.

“There is a more depressive tone and we have had to enter more with psychiatric treatments”, he says.

For him, the word “return” is already misleading. People are returning to environments they already knew, but in the midst of a scenario where a lot has changed, he says. “When we talk about return, we’re not talking about going back to what it was before. From a psychological point of view, that’s when the pain starts to appear.”

Brown notes that people are sad and angry. “We have to think of welcoming strategies in the returns, as groups where people can talk. It takes a look from the managers to understand the spaces of coexistence, coffee, chat and, sometimes, people don’t realize that this is important for mental health.”

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