HealthLinks Charleston July/August 2021

58 | www. Char l es tonPhys i c i ans . com | www.Hea l thL i nksChar l es ton . com C H A R L E S T ON CO U N T Y M E D I C A L S OC I E T Y REFLECTING ON THE CHANGES AND EASING BACK INTO ‘NORMAL’ By Theresa Stratford Justine DeCastro, M.D., of Palmetto Proactive Healthcare in Mount Pleasant, recalled how it was for her when life was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pan - demic just a little over a year ago. “It forced me to slow down and to take a long hard look at my work/life balance,” she recalled. “It was almost like a reset.” For her, it brought a career change, but she acknowledged that although the pandemic re- vealed positive changes for some people, she also recognized emotional and mental struggles in many of her patients: “The pandemic exacerbated issues for those who were already struggling with depression and anxiety.” For example, she said if there was little interest in doing things before, the pandemic brought that on two-fold. She said many of her patients had issues sleeping and some drank more alcohol to pass the time. And while relationships with family members in the home strengthened for some, for others the exact opposite was true. Although it is too early to obtain accurate statistics, divorce lawyers nationwide saw an uptick in business later in 2020. The reasons could be tensions heightened by economic issues or routines that once masked marital issues coming into the limelight. It is no secret that relationships suffered and not just inside the home. Friends lost touch, extended family members feared meet-ups and children became distant as they strug- gled with virtual learning and changes at school. As we ease out of the pandemic, Dr. DeCastro shared some advice that she gives her own patients grappling with depres- sion or anxiety: “We are lucky to live here, where we can get outside the entire year. I know people who live in places that have no sunlight for three months. They have to do light ther- apy. We really need to take advantage of being able to enjoy the outdoors year-round.” She also said that spiritual practices help. “It is important to make your soul happy, too,” she explained. “Meditate, start a yoga practice or, if you enjoy going to church, go to a service. Spirituality is more important to overall health than we realize. It isn’t something we make time for but we should.” Justine DeCastro, M.D.