April 21, 2020

Resilience — what is it and how to boost it — has become a recent focus of numerous medical talk shows, blogs, books and electronic apps. Surveys to calculate one’s resilience quotient have become popular. Of course, facing the morbidity, mortality, social isolation and economic uncertainty that characterizes the COVID-19 pandemic, we crave concrete reassurance that we and our loved ones are going to be okay. We will weather this storm. We will bounce back, as one of my colleagues texted me earlier today, “Bigger, badder, stronger.”

Indeed, the majority of us will demonstrate resilience. We will return to our workplaces, schools, houses of worship, favorite restaurants, and mountain trails with no appreciable adverse health effects from the pandemic.

However, this is not the case for roughly one million Coloradans who will suffer from mental health concerns this year alone. Add the adverse psychological and biological effects of chronic, pervasive and persistent stress to the baseline prevalence of any mental disorder (19%) or serious mental illness (5%) and we should expect — and prepare for — a surge in suicides, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, anxiety disorders and problems with alcohol and drug use.


While we have had other infectious disease scares and disasters in the U.S., we have not experienced a pandemic of this scope for more than a century. This type of disaster is unprecedented in our current society. We are psychologically inexperienced.

However, it is time that we go beyond focusing on emotional supports and discussing resilience, coping strategies, sleep hygiene or exercise routines. While these are all admittedly important to one’s well-being, we must launch a frank dialogue about psychiatric disorders as the “second surge” of this pandemic.

Over the next several weeks, we will begin an open and honest discussion of what we can expect, from a psychiatric point of view, over the coming months. We will publish conversations with experts in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD and other stress reactions, as well as problems with substance use and abuse. These are exceptionally common medical problems in our society and, like COVID-19, are not exclusive to any particular socioeconomic class, race, ethnic or age group, sex or gender.

Our goal is to promote recognition that mental illness can strike any of us during and after this pandemic. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms in ourselves and others. Mental health care is available through multiple avenues such as one’s primary care provider, the Department of Psychiatry and the Johnson Depression Center. There is no shame in reaching out for help. Suffering from depression or PTSD does not mean that one is not resilient. Resilience is complex and multifaceted. Appropriate and timely treatment can aid a person’s innate resilience and return him or her to health.

We hope you will take a few minutes to read and discuss these articles. The more frequently we speak the words “depression, PTSD, panic, suicide” the less stigmatized they become. I am optimistic that one day we will feel as comfortable seeking treatment for psychiatric and substance use concerns as we are for any other common medical condition. The majority of psychiatric disorders are episodic and highly responsive to treatment. Let’s all do what we can to prevent this second surge from becoming the chronic medical condition that will be the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

C. Neill Epperson, M.D.
Robert Freedman Endowed Professor and Chair 
Department of Psychiatry 

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    Resilience – it’s what we are all searching for during this season of unprecedented uncertainty. In this week’s episode, Dr. Neill Epperson speaks with Dr. Anne Dondapati Allen to gain her insight on connecting with our inner resilience.
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  • Mind the Brain: Vaccine Hesitancy in the Time of COVID-19

    Dec 8, 2020
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  • Mind the Brain: Managing During Uncertainty

    Nov 18, 2020
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  • Mind the Brain: The Microbiome and Mental Health in the Time of COVID-19

    Jul 28, 2020
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  • Mind the Brain: What Brain Science Can Teach Us About Adolescent Stress and Resilience

    Jul 22, 2020
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  • Mind the Brain: Sleep and Stress During COVID-19

    Jul 16, 2020
    During a global pandemic, it comes as no surprise that getting good sleep can feel difficult. Decreased sleep quality and quantity including difficulty falling and staying asleep, sleeping too much, distressing dreams and sometimes nightmares are common during times of stress and the current period of prolonged urgency, uncertainty and heightened work/life demands. The following are concrete suggestions to help improve sleep during this challenging time.
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  • Mind the Brain: Anxiety and Cancer During COVID-19

    Jul 7, 2020
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  • Mind the Brain: Reversing the Cycle of Depression Through Action

    Jun 30, 2020
    We all know we live in challenging and uncertain times. The Renée Crown Wellness Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder was established with a commitment to the vision of a world in which every young person thrives, supported by the caring relationships and inner resources required for a lifetime of wellness. The last few months have challenged this vision in profound ways. The pandemics of the coronavirus and systemic racism call upon us with urgency to attend to our individual and collective mental health and wellness.
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  • Mind the Brain: Child and Adolescent Anxiety in the Time of COVID-19

    Jun 23, 2020
    Anxiety helps us stay vigilant for potential future threats, and the COVID-19 pandemic brings with it significant uncertainty. We certainly expected a spike in reports of anxiety symptoms like worries, fear, irritability, and low mood in the children and adolescents we care for in the clinic and our homes.
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  • Mind the Brain: Times are Strange, but Uncertainty is Nothing New: Managing COVID-19 When You or a Loved One Has OCD

    Jun 16, 2020
    These are uncertain times, and uncertainty is familiar territory for people living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD sufferers have more difficulty tolerating uncertainty and are more likely to feel uncertain in situations where others would not (1, 2). Compulsions are driven by the quest for certainty.
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  • Mind the Brain: Feast or Famine - Navigating Food and Body Image During the Pandemic

    Jun 9, 2020
    Have you seen these sorts of social media posts? Society has framed the quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic as a recipe for disaster; being stuck at home, close to snacks with nothing to do but sit around. Weight loss, working out and dieting are being pushed as necessities to help you come out of this pandemic feeling refreshed and renewed. Ideas like these ignore the fact that this is not a vacation, and that while we may have extra time on our hands, it does not mean that we have the bandwidth or the finances to cook, eat healthy or work out regularly. For many of us, our routines—and the feelings of security that go with them—have disappeared, and this can cause a disruption in eating patterns and self-image.
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  • Mind the Brain: Motherhood and Mental Health During COVID-19

    May 26, 2020
    Late last year, a collaboration of organizations focused on maternal health made the declaration that 2020 would be the “Year of the Mother.” While this announcement was already timely in many ways, it is unlikely that anyone anticipated what was to come in 2020, and how a global pandemic would impact pregnant and postpartum women.
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  • Mind the Brain: Suicide Risk and the Global Pandemic

    May 19, 2020
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  • Mind the Brain: Mind the Drink

    May 12, 2020
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  • Mind the Brain: Unstructured, Uncertain, Uneasy - Students During COVID-19

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  • Mind the Brain: How COVID-19 is a Unique Threat to Mental Health

    Apr 28, 2020
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Contact Us

Department of Psychiatry
Anschutz Medical Campus
13001 E 17th Place
Fitzsimons Building
2nd floor, Suite C2000
Aurora, CO  80045
Phone: (303)724-4940
Fax: (303)724-4956