400% increase in patients with stress and anxiety, according to Galway GP

A leading Galway GP has seen a spike in patients presenting with stress and anxiety issues since January 2021.

Last week, Dr Brian Higgins treated over 200 patients in his practice who had presented with stress or anxiety as their primary or secondary concern.

This is in contrast to the 30-60 patients who would have presented pre-Covid-19.

“The patients presenting to my practice are both male and female and of all ages, from teenagers to elderly adults. They know they don’t feel themselves but can’t describe what the matter is,”  said Dr Higgins.

In addition this rise in mental health issues is not specific to Dr Higgins’ practice, “from speaking with colleagues, this is now a national trend in most GP practices” according to Dr Higgins.

“Some people can be predisposed to anxiety, as it may run in the family. Others will be affected by introducing new stressors such as COVID-19, financial concerns, or employment loss, to name but a few. Thirdly, the lack of social supports such as meeting friends, going for dinner, or going to the gym is currently not available to help people.

“If any of these are negatively affected, it can trigger stress and anxiety in the most resilient people. Many patients will complain that they are not sleeping very well and have a low mood,” said Dr Higgins.

Seek help for stress and anxiety

Dr Higgins urges the public not to suffer in silence as there are many options for patients suffering from stress and anxiety.

“I would encourage everyone to get some form of exercise as it has proven benefits for treating stress and anxiety” he said.

“Other patients may benefit from medication or speaking with a professional. Your GP can give tailored advice to each patient”.

Additionally if you are struggling with mental health concerns, you can contact the 24-hour helplines available below:

Samaritans 24 hours free helpline – 116 123

Pieta House – Freephone 1800 247 247 or text HELP 51444

For more information, please visit Pieta House website and Samaritans website.

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