Doctor: Pandemic, winter weather leading to increase in mental health issues in New Jersey

Some New Jersey residents are seeking therapy as the COVID-19 pandemic and the winter weather are taking a toll on mental health.

News 12 Staff

Feb 5, 2021, 10:27 PM

Updated 1,234 days ago

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Some New Jersey residents are seeking therapy as the COVID-19 pandemic and the winter weather are taking a toll on mental health.
“This time of year is always a time where people who experience winter-related symptoms are naturally coming up and we’re getting an influx of people,” says Dr. Bahar Hadjesmaeiloo, a psychiatrist at Riverside Medical Group.
Mental health professionals say that this year is worse than most when it comes to mental health.
“It’s not just people who are exposed [to the virus] firsthand. It’s people who lost family members, it’s people who are taking care of people who have recovered with COVID and just struggling with financial difficulties families have gone through,” Hadjesmaeiloo says.
Hadjesmaeiloo says that her office has seen a 50% increase in patients seeking mental health help in recent months. She says that it is a number that is consistent with nationwide statistics. Hadjesmaeiloo says that the winter months and the pandemic are making things worse for existing patients and bringing in new ones and that is making it more difficult for doctors to treat them all.
“Those kinds of self-care things we try to recommend is harder now with the snow. I don’t want to recommend everybody going outside. All these barriers are preventing the progress we usually see with patients and that’s, I think, part of why the demand has gone up,” Hadjesmaeiloo says.
Hadjesmaeiloo says that she is hopeful that things will get better and believes that there is a silver lining with more people paying attention to mental health and getting more comfortable seeking professional help.
A recent Census Bureau study found that 42% of people felt anxiety and depression-related symptoms this past December – 11% more than 2019. Adults under 44 are more likely to feel depressed than people over 65.


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