Dealing with Depression and Anxiety While Sheltering in Place

Some therapists are shifting from in-person sessions to video conferencing in order to abide by the Bay Area's shelter-in-place order. (Getty Images)

The global pandemic and the restrictions that have come with it have led to added stress for everyone, especially those dealing with depression and anxiety. On March 16, six Bay Area counties issued shelter-in-place orders, prohibiting people from leaving their homes except to receive or provide “essential services.”

Liliya George is a marriage and family therapist based in San Jose, but she’s recently shifted her focus to those dealing with depression and anxiety because of coronavirus-related restrictions.

“People who are already struggling with mental health are going to be in a difficult situation right now because this is definitely exacerbating their symptoms,” George said. “And people who were fine, are now struggling with anxiety and worry about what’s going to happen.”

Where to go for Therapy When you Can’t Leave the House

Enter online therapy. George has been offering online therapy in her practice for a few years, but now she says it has become particularly helpful.

She offers therapy through Zoom, FaceTime and over the phone. “A lot of people are hesitant, but once they try it, they really like it.”

Where to Find Affordable Therapy

The Center for Somatic Psychotherapy and the Open Path Collective offer options for sliding scale therapy in the Bay Area. George and Irene Yaymadjian, a therapist based in  Hillside Wellness Clinic southern California, both offer services through the Open Path Collective.

“Another option [to find affordable therapy] is to search for ‘affordable therapy in my area’,” Yaymadjian said. “Zoom and Facetime have really allowed us to connect with our patients. As long as you can find a safe space to talk, that’s all you really need.”

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Yaymadjian and her colleagues are providing free therapy for those in need while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. George is working on her own solution: a website with affordable mental health resources.

“What we’re working on right now is providing a resource for people who need therapy and can’t afford the full fees. The website will list all the licensed mental health providers who are willing to provide pro-bono or reduced fee sessions right now — to clients in need,” George said.

The site, telementalhealthsupport.com, is set to launch next week, though George is still working out the details. In the meantime, George and Yaymadjian urge people who are feeling anxious to take a breather.

“Don’t have the news playing in the background. Make sure you’re eating, making sure you’re drinking water,” Yaymadjian said. “Take a breath and remind yourself that this is temporary and that you’re doing the best you can.”

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