Mental health expert shares ways to manage stress, anxiety during a pandemic

KENNEWICK, Wash. – There are people we haven’t seen in months, cancelled plans, and tragic loss. All of this, on top of a slew of uncertainty, could take a toll on one’s health, according to Deanna Petrilli.

“I do think that with isolation I do think any human is going to experience an increase of depression and just general stress and struggling; we are social creatures,” she said.

Petrilli is a Team Lead with Lourdes Health Mobile Outreach Team. She’s stationed with Kennewick Police and accompanies them to situations where there may a person in mental distress. She said during the pandemic era, they’ve seen an increase of the severity of crisis they respond to.

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She urged the importance of staying connected in any way possible to loved ones and friends.

“Well don’t forget that there are ways to continue reaching out and socializing with your friends and family whether that be zoom calls phone calls. Also going on walks, exercising, make sure you’re sleeping correctly, getting some sunlight,” she explained.

As the days get colder and shorter, Petrilli said this is the time of year when people can get Seasonal Affective Disorder also known as SAD.

“So you might notice that you’ve become withdrawn you might notice that you’re not interested in daily activities that you used to be. There are sunlight therapies and light bulbs that you can get that will assist with that to help increase your vitamin D,” Petrilli said.

If at-home activities don’t ease your stress, Petrilli encourages people to seek professional help.

MORE: Lourdes Crisis Center remains open during pandemic

“You can talk to a psychiatrist and look into medications if that’s appropriate or there are mental health therapists that you can see that can help you work on coping,” she said.

These uncertain times could also trigger anxiety or panic attacks. Petrilli said if you find yourself in the middle of an episode, focus on your breathing.

“Some deep breathing, slow your breath because that is a trigger to the rest of your body saying ‘okay we can control our breath that means we can calm down and work through this,'” she explained.

To get mental health help in the Tri-Cities, check out these resources:

NAMI Tri-Cities

Benton-Franklin Community Action Committee 

Lourdes Mental Health 

Tri-Cities Community Health