By HANS DUVEFELT
Especially in these strange and uncertain times, many people feel uneasy. Some of them come to us with concerns over their state of mind.
In primary care, our job is in large part to perform triage. We strive to identify patients who need referral, medication or further evaluation. We also strive, or at last should strive, to reassure those patients whose reactions are normal, considering their circumstances.
A set of emotions we consider normal during the first weeks of the loss of a loved one may constitute pathology of protracted or if there is no apparent trigger.
But what is normal in today’s reality?
People today often have a low tolerance for deviations from the mean. They measure their heart rates, sleep times, steps taken, calories eaten and many other things on their smartphones. They compare their statistics to others’ or to their own from different circumstances.
Is it normal to sleep less when the last thing you do before bed is take in the latest disaster news? Is it normal to have a higher resting heart rate when you are threatened by eviction? Is it normal to feel sadness that life as we knew it doesn’t seem to be within our reach right now?
The worst thing we can do is tell people there is something wrong with them if we see them doing and hear them expressing what many other people also do.
It’s bad enough to feel bad, but even worse if you think your reaction is a sign of psychiatric illness or psychological or constitutional inferiority.
Not everyone checks in with other people if they feel the same way, and not everyone gives themself permission to feel bad.
Just like some people expect their body metrics as measured with their devices to be “normal”, many in today’s culture don’t expect to feel the