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Doctors seeing major increase in anxiety, depression among patients amid COVID-19 pandemic

Doctors say anxiety is leading to physical problems for some of their patients.

HOUSTON — Mental health care professionals and others in the medical community are seeing the coronavirus pandemic take its toll on their patients.

"Social isolation from lack of mobility because people are cooped up in their homes, there's an extreme anxiety about job loss,” says Dr. Joshua Septimus, an internal medicine physician with Houston Methodist Hospital.

There's no shortage of reasons why people are suffering from depression and anxiety right now. Dr. Septimus says he's never written more prescriptions for anxiety medications than he has since this pandemic began.

"Obviously, our first choice is to get them counseling and try to help them with coping techniques, but people are not designed as human beings to cope with this situation," says Septimus.

RELATED: Mental health resources in Houston for those affected by coronavirus

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He says the anxiety has led to physical problems for his patients. Psychosomatic complaints.

"People coming in with irritable bowel syndrome, increased problems with palpitations."

But experts do have advice for ways to stay or get mentally fit right now.

Much of it has to do with establishing a routine, getting exercise and eating well.

"But remember, this is not a sprint, this is a marathon, this is gonna go on for months, so whatever plan you put down, in putting together a routine, it has to be a routine that you can sustain," says KHOU mental health and wellness expert Bill Prasad.

Another piece of advice from experts -- try to safely reconnect with your friends and relatives.

And remember, if you feel you need help right now, there are many resources out there that are free.

Mental Health America of Greater Houston

In the event of a psychiatric emergency:

  • Dial 911 and request a Crisis Intervention Team or CIT Officer
  • Go to MHMRA Neuropsychiatric Center (NPC) — 24 hour emergency psychiatric facility
    1502 Taub Loop, Houston, TX 77030
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) or other low-cost clinics
    Gateway to Care Navigators: dial 713-783-4146 to find the closest FQHC
  • Harris Health Behavioral Health Program (multiple locations)
    Eligibility: 713-566-6509
    Appointments: 713-526-4243

In the event of a non-emergency, contact:

For more resources please contact the United Way of Greater Houston by dialing 2-1-1 for information and referral services.

Crisis Intervention in Houston

THE HOTLINE: 832.416.1177

TEEN: 832.416.1199 (CALL)

TEEN: 281.201.4430 (TEXT)

Great news if you watch TV with an antenna

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