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By David Pan
Beacon reporter 

Coronavirus impacts people dealing with mental health issues

Series: Coronavirus | Story 47

Last updated 4/8/2020 at 10:59am

Dr. Scott Alpert

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic seems to have taken over every aspect of daily life.

Even those dealing with such serious issues as depression, anxiety and substance abuse bring up the coronavirus during therapy sessions, said Dr. Scott Alpert, director of Basic Steps Mental Health.

"I would say that 80 percent of the people are talking about it," he said.

Even the way Alpert interacts with his patients has been affected by the coronavirus.

Alpert, a doctor of clinical psychology, conducts most of his appointments with his patients either on the phone or in virtual sessions on the computer. One or two patients a day come in for in-person sessions.

"I celebrate them," Alpert said.

Many of Alpert's patients are finding that the coronavirus is triggering fears.

"A lot of people are cowering at home," he said. "They are very suspicious and mistrusting of people. We're having to go back to the basics of how to deal with stress, anxiety and fear. "

Some people are turning to alcohol in an attempt to take their minds off of the current situation. Alpert is convinced it won't work.

"I ask them, 'Why not go outside for a walk? You've got to get your body moving. You can't hide from this thing. You've got to process it."

Boredom is the biggest issue for many struggling with addiction.

"If they don't have a relationship with themselves, they're sure going to have a relationship with the bottle or needle," Alpert said. "Now is the time to work at the underlying roots.

Alpert also finds that many people engage in what he describes as "future negative fantasies." They often think: What is the worst thing that can happen?

That kind of thinking isn't productive.

"The most important thing to realize is that if you had a good life, a good foundation, then you'll weather this fine," he said. "You need to take the proper precautions."

Alpert added that for some clients, having to stay at home actually is turning into a positive.

"They're realizing, 'I'm at home. I've got to deal with things.'" They're using it as an opportunity to reconnect with themselves."

One person was so focused on being helpful to everyone else in their life that they made it their purpose in life.

"This made them stop that. They can't go out and please other people," Alpert said. "They're focused on themselves. It's brand new and intriguing."

The best way people can get through this national crisis, Alpert said, is to have a positive intention.

For example, people might say "My intention is to enjoy today. My intention is to be hopeful. Public thought can create an amazing physical experience."


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