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Jewish Journal: Treating the Pandemic Mind

The Jewish Journal recently featured a column by internist Daniel Stone, MD, regional medical director of the Cedars-Sinai Valley Network, about the "mental health pandemic" that has spread in tandem with COVID-19.

"We’ve suffered the loss of gatherings with friends and families, workplace interactions and social events like birthday parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings and funerals," Stone wrote in his commentary

As a result, clinical depression may have tripled during the pandemic, according to a recent JAMA study that Stone cited. "The threat of a deadly infection, loss of social interaction and financial stress have pushed many of us to the edge," he wrote.

While one in seven adults in the U.S. takes anti-depressants called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), Stone argued that given the prevalence of psychological illness during the pandemic, these medications could actually be underprescribed.

“The pills don’t solve life’s problems, but they restore the personal resources you need to address your problems," Stone wrote. "I tell my patients that they allow life’s 'slings and arrows' to bounce off, rather than scoring direct hits."

He also encouraged patients to improve their mental wellbeing through psychotherapy, exercise, meditation and activities that they enjoy, which should be easier with the extra energy provided by SSRIs. That extra boost can also improve an individual's ability to act on their therapist’s advice.

“For many, SSRIs help restore precious quality of life in these profoundly challenging times,” Stone wrote.

Click here to read the complete column in the Jewish Journal.