Behavioral health expert warns of ‘psychological toll’ of COVID-19

Tennessee's Overdose Crisis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Dr. Abhi Saxena, Medical Director of Hospital Services with Vanderbilt Behavioral Health, said more people should be aware of the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had in the community.

“Times like this, I think the psychological toll of the lockdown and things that we’re doing to protect folks is sometimes a little understated. We have a lot of people talking about the economic pros and cons, the disease pros and cons, and those are very important. But, I don’t hear too often folks trying to weigh and balance the psychological and psychosocial stresses that were added on to people’s lives.”

It’s those stressors that have pushed people to seek solace elsewhere. “We’re definitely seeing things like substance use, alcohol use, up trending,” said Saxena.

Disturbing trends, medical professionals’ fear won’t disappear when the pandemic passes.
“Some of those problems aren’t just going away. With opioid use, and alcohol abuse, economic stressors are getting tougher, these things are going to be there,” Saxena said.

If you feel yourself struggling with substance dependency, or even anxiety or depression, Saxena has a message for you.

“If you notice this snowballing, and it’s not just an hour or two, or a day, it’s becoming a bad week or a bad month, things are not getting better, do not hesitate to reach out.”


Tennessee’s overdose crisis is evolving in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. First responders and emergency rooms are reporting an increase in overdose cases. News 2 examines the disturbing trend in a special investigation. Read the latest reports here.        

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

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