healthcare workers

Healthcare Workers and Mental Health During a Pandemic

It’s been nearly two years since the COVID-19 outbreak was categorized officially as a pandemic. Hospitals were overwhelmed in many parts of the US by COVID cases due to lack of space, not enough ventilators, and not enough PPE for hospital workers or anyone else in the healthcare field that might be exposed to patients suffering from the virus. In addition, protocols for those in the health field changed almost daily to keep everyone safe while the nation’s leaders figured out the next steps in real-time. The toll this has taken on our healthcare workers, and mental health has yet to be fully realized.

Healthcare Workers and Mental Health Before the Pandemic

The mental health needs of our frontline healthcare workers have been gaining attention in recent years. Being exposed to multiple stress factors within their work naturally takes a toll. According to Frontiers in Public Health, heavy workloads, long shifts, a fast-paced environment, lack of physical safety, and more contribute to the problem. Healthcare workers will often push through long, stressful shifts for long periods with little to no recovery time. These factors are putting them at risk for burnout. What is burnout? Defined as an occupational phenomenon in ICD-11: “Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: (1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; (2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and (3) reduced professional efficacy. Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life” According to Mental Health America, 76% of healthcare workers have burnout due to the pandemic.

Burnout Isn’t the Only Problem

Healthcare workers are also reporting symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and even suicidal ideation. The KFF and Washington Post surveyed 1327 healthcare workers regarding pandemic-related stress, and nearly half of the respondents reported problems sleeping; 31% reported frequent headaches or stomach aches. In addition, 16% said they had increased their drug or alcohol use, and about half say they have experienced at least one of these issues.

What can be done?

When experiencing burnout, anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue, the key is to reach out for help. In addition to modifying behaviors, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, practicing mindfulness techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation, accessing mental health resources should be at the top of the list. As a Ketamine Infusion Clinic, we treat a large number of healthcare workers with our groundbreaking treatments. These infusions can provide almost immediate relief for the conditions listed above.

How Does Ketamine Work?

Regarding depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and chronic anxiety; these mental health disorders are all thought to be due to the destructive effect of continual stress on the brain, leading to neuronal damage and the creation of maladaptive neural activity and abnormal thought patterns indicative of these disorders.

Research suggests that one of ketamine’s significant actions is as an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist; that is, it blocks activation of the NMDA receptor. This action leads to increased glutamate release, which is involved in neuronal plasticity and synaptic growth and repair. Through complex pathways, these effects lead to the release of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance responsible for the maintenance of healthy neurons and their connections, known as synapses.

Increased BDNF has been shown to repair and regrowth of damaged synapses and their neuronal connections caused by chronic stress in animal models. Likewise, in humans, ketamine is thought to create new neuronal circuits and repair the healthy neuronal connections that existed in the brain before the patient suffered from depression, PTSD, OCD, or chronic anxiety.

We offer 10% off our services for all healthcare workers. If you are interested in exploring Ketamine Infusion Therapy to treat Burnout, anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideation, call our clinic at 505-639-4973 or click here.