A ‘double whammy’ for Tennessee; tornado and coronavirus affecting mental health


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s been a tumultuous month in Tennessee.

There have been 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in only a matter of days, while hundreds are still searching for homes after tornadoes ripped through our area.

But how has that affected mental health for people dealing with this trauma?

“It has come up in every session, and sometimes takes up the majority of the session,” Psychologist Rebecca Pearce said.

Pearce says with added stressors during this intense time, it’s pertinent that people ask for help.

“I think everyone has been affected on some level,” Pearce said. “It’s important to acknowledge, legitimately, it’s a lot.”

The unknown factors also play a role in causing more anxiety for people. And it can cause irritability and frustration.

“When we’re under threat it comes out as fight or flight, sometimes freeze. But fight or flight is fear or anger,” Pearce said.

So it’s important to give yourself and others extra kindness and love. Pearce recommends calming down and keeping the mind busy through doing puzzles, reading and exercising.

Pearce says social distance does not mean social isolation, so maintaining personal connections through technology is vital.

“We have great opportunities to still connect to people. Whether that be emailing, direct messaging, video chat or an old fashioned phone call,” Pearce said.

Although taking a moment to breathe amidst the chaos can sometimes feel unproductive.

“We live in a society that is based a lot on productivity, so when people are not feeling productive they may feel useless or worthless,” Psychologist Daniel Goldstein said. “So they’re in isolation coping with a lot of those feelings so it can be challenging.”

Both Goldstein and Pearce’s practices have reverted to virtual sessions for the time being. But recommend reaching out to talk if you feel you need the extra support during the pandemic.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of Super Tuesday tornado rebuilding and recovery.

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