DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — With life returning to a pre-pandemic “normal,” some health experts say the sudden changes could be causing massive amounts of anxiety and mental health concerns across the country.

In the span of a little over a year, we’ve gone from strict isolation and masks, multiple vaccines receiving emergency approval, to finally sitting down in-person at a restaurant with others. Mental health experts say all of these changes in such a short amount of time can be challenging.

“What we really need is connections with other people to successfully emerge from this pandemic,” said Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS).

As Ohio continues opening back up, the changes could be affecting thousands of residents with mental health concerns or suffering from drug addictions. However, after being isolated for several months the new world brings brand new challenges.

“It’s the people who are vaccinated versus people who are not vaccinated, and the fear and anxiety about being around people who may share the disease and catch COVID-19,” said Jones-Kelley. “That’s already a fear people are expressing.”

Other mental health specialists believe more than half of Ohio remains unvaccinated due to uncertainty.

“It’s your body, it’s gotta be your decision and if that decision is causing you so much anxiety you can’t function and do things, you have to take that into consideration,” said Dr. Jonathan Lazzara, medical director at Atrium Medical Center Behavioral Health.

Doctors say having honest conversations about mental health is a good first step but return to the new world at your own pace.

“The decision is what you feel comfortable with at the rate you want to return,” said Lazzara. “You’re not being crazy and not being anxious or paranoid by doing it at a very slow rate. Those are our loved ones, we treasure them and we have to work with everyone.

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