Normal Responses to Abnormal Situations

Bernice Lewis says, “Normal’s just a setting on the washing machine,” and she’s right. There is no one way to feel or be.

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But I think it’s important to talk about our “new normal,” or living in the era of COVID-19. The Washington Post says that 34 out of every 100 Americans has met criteria for a major depressive episode, an anxiety disorder, or both so far in 2020. Typically, about one in 10 Americans meets criteria for a mental illness, and 6.7% have a depressive episode in a given year.

This is something to think about. A lot of people who come to see me at my clinical practice express concern about being strange or abnormal for needing therapy. Many of them have a history of trauma, stress, or challenging life events. When they explore it, they often realize that their mental health symptoms make sense in the larger context of their lives. I can’t count how many times I’ve told someone, “With what you’re describing to me, I’d be concerned if that didn’t make you anxious/depressed/etc.”

We are going through massive shifts in our world. People are stressed out, anxious, and depressed because we live in a stressful, anxiety-provoking, and depressing time. Behaviors that would have been concerning a year ago are necessary for our safety in parts of the world. It’s understandable to feel this way, and it is okay to ask for help!

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Published by Amy Marschall, Psy.D.

Dr. Amy Marschall received her Psy.D. from the University of Hartford in September 2015. Her clinical interests are varied and include child and adolescent therapy, TF-CBT, rural psychology, telemental health, sexual and domestic violence, psychological assessment, and mental illness prevention. Dr. Marschall presently works in the Child and Adolescent Therapy Clinic at Sioux Falls Psychological Services in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she provides individual and family therapy and psychological assessment to children, adolescents, and college students. She also facilitates an art therapy group for adolescents and college students with anxiety and depression. Dr. Amy Marschall is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Telemental Health.

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