Mental health experts say COVID-19 reopening, closing can cause anxiety, depression

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Five of nine Bay Area counties are on the California watch list and Monday Governor Gavin Newsom had another grim update.

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At her practice psychologist, Andrea Zorbas has seen an increase in depression and anxiety cases as COVID-19 cases increase.

"It sends a fight or flight response. It sends cortisol to the brain and sometimes we don't breathe deeply and sort of go into panic mode," said Zobras.

On Monday, Santa Clara County was scheduled to reopened hair salons, gyms and tattoo parlors but after the governor's announcement, they will have to close again. These changes begin to tax heavily on many.

"Back and forth of a lot of mixed emotions. We are happy for a little bit and then we hear the next day another stay-at-home order and we are hit with a wave of fear again," said Zobras.

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The lack of ability to cope during these uncertain times is leading many to the ER.

"We're seeing between eight to 10 (patients) a day that are expressing suicidal ideations," said Dr. Chris Colwell, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.

Dr. Colwell is seeing a pattern with many of his patients.

"The two patterns are suicidal or on the path to get there and then the other group those who are responding with anger," said Dr. Colwell.

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Infectious Disease expert, Dr. Peter Chin Hong stands by this cautiously reopening process.

"I think it's done for specific reasons. Which is that it keeps you vigilant. It is more tiring but it gives people the most flexibility," said Dr. Chin-Hong.

For now, experts recommend not to focus on the everyday changes but to take one day at a time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, click here for supportive resources.

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