As COVID-19 restrictions are loosened, some feel heightened anxiety

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As Philadelphia and the rest of southeastern Pennsylvania enter the “yellow” phase, in accordance with the governor's reopening plan, more people are feeling anxious about returning to life with loosened restrictions.

When Pennsylvania first shut down, clinical and performance psychologist Dr. Penny Levin said she saw a clear uptick in people seeking therapy, though there seemed to be a lull as people “adjusted and got used to it, figured out the logistics.”

But as the region welcomes “yellow” and restrictions are loosened, Levin is once again seeing an increased interest in people seeking mental health services.

“Now that people have to make decisions, what I'm finding is that people are really, really anxious, again,” she said. “Do I want to go out or don't I? Do I want to have people in my home? Which people do I want in my home? How do I know if they've been socially distancing?”

Plus, unemployment has been deemed a mental health risk factor by the World Health Organization, which Levin said is a concern at an already uncertain time.

“We're seeing a clear increase in anxiety and depression, a clear need for more mental health care at exactly the time when people may be losing their health insurance,” she said.

It’s common for people to feel this way, and they should seek help if needed.

“It used to be you walked by people and, for the most part, saw other people as friendly, but not as a threat,” Levin added. “Now, if someone stands close to you at a grocery store, that's suddenly scary.”