Mental health experts see ‘upsurge’ in new patients grappling with anxiety, depression

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 5:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Like other mental health professionals, Dr. Doreen Fukushima has been busier during the pandemic.

Doctors say many people saw their emotional health deteriorate over the last year.

The CDC says from August 2020 to February 2021, the number of people reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression rose from 36% to 42%.

Those reporting unmet mental health care needs rose from 9% to 12%. Increases were the largest among adults ages 18 to 29 and those with less than a high school education.

“It’s kind of of skyrocketed since the pandemic,” said Fukushima, a psychiatrist of Hoola Pono in Pearl City. “We are seeing a lot of upsurge in new patients coming in that have never seen a psychiatrist.”

Fukushima says she uses an alternative treatment called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for patients who aren’t responding to anti-depressant medication.

She advises people to get help before it’s too late.

That’s exactly what Stacey Augustiro did. She said she’s battled depression for years and even contemplated suicide.

“It really was a struggle to not take all the pills to just go to sleep and never wake up,” she said.

Augustiro sought help and went through six weeks of TMS treatment Monday through Friday which ended March 2020. She says it helped her endure the pandemic and changed her life.

“I think had I not had the treatment before the shutdown, I think it would have probably been worse,” said Augustiro. “I could see my self-confidence coming back. I started enjoying life.”

Fukushima urges people to get help sooner rather than later.

“I tell people, don’t get to that point. Let’s try something first before you get to the ‘game over’ spot. It can get better,” said Fukushima.

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