Opinion | Altered Moods During the Pandemic

To the Editor:

Re “The Pandemic Can Alter Your Personality” (column, April 2):

People who suffer from the negative effects David Brooks describes haven’t changed their personalities, but they might be depressed. Burnout, lack of concentration and loss of meaning can be signs of a mood disorder.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 40 percent of adults in the United States have struggled with mental health or substance use problems during the pandemic. If you feel low, talk to your doctor. You can feel better, even now!

Deborah L. Cabaniss
New York
The writer is a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University.

To the Editor:

When I read David Brooks’s prediction that the second half of this year will be better than we can imagine, I welled up in deep accord. A month ago, battered by the loneliness and loss of identity that came with no longer performing onstage, I contacted a mental health facility.

When a place there opened up and I was on the verge of admitting myself, I booked a TV show and traveled to Philadelphia, where, for almost a month, I laughed, collaborated and engaged creatively with other humane artists and a crew of technical geniuses.

Now I am home, vaccinated and my old self. I am planning for the future. Oh, it will be wonderful. And it is right around the corner — for all of us.

David D. Turner
Clifton, N.J.

To the Editor:

David Brooks eloquently expressed the inchoate feelings I’ve struggled with for the last year.

Like him, I know how lucky my family and I have been not to have lost anyone to the pandemic. Even so, as a physician in a New York City hospital, my husband confronted the daily death toll and mobile morgues outside his office for months; his sadness and grief formed the thrumming emotional background at home.

While there were moments of joy and happiness punctuating that low-grade mourning — a micro-wedding, the births of two healthy grandsons — I’ve realized that I have lost any sense of fun and spontaneity. From cautious, masked backyard visits with some friends last summer to carefully curated grocery lists for my Instacart orders, everything has been planned.

As I approach my second vaccination, and potentially full protection from Covid-19, I doubt that my behavior will change significantly. I’m grateful for what hasn’t been lost, yet fear that I’ll never return to spur-of-the-moment simple pleasures. That’s the “normal” I suspect will be gone forever.

Merri Rosenberg
Ardsley, N.Y.

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