Families stuck at home for prolonged periods of time. A constant barrage of unnerving news coverage — both on TV and the Internet. The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic can affect a person’s mental well-being.

Staying healthy includes getting your proper seven to eight hours of sleep every night, without interruption from digital devices, explains Rachel V. F. Rohaidy, M.D., a Baptist Health psychiatrist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental, addictive and emotional disorders.

Dr. Rohaidy, featured in a new Baptist HealthTalk podcast, emphasizes tuning out of the daily COVID-19 news “marathons” and adopting “sleep hygiene” habits.

“Sleep hygiene is really a series of behaviors and so we want bedtimes and our bedrooms to be a sanctuary” — with all TVs, phones and tablets turned off, she tells podcast host, Jonathan Fialkow, M.D., deputy medical director, chief of cardiology and a certified lipid specialist at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. You can access Baptist HealthTalk on your computer or smartphone via Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

Below are Q&A excerpts from Dr. Rohaidy’s podcast with Dr. Fialkow, Coping with the Coronavirus Pandemic:

Dr. Fialkow:
“You have great experience in treating people who have various mental health issues, from depression to anxiety to various other components. But I think it’s fair to say that in this hyper acute time, you’re probably seeing a higher volume. What do you expect to see over the next couple of weeks to months?”

Dr. Rohaidy:
“We’re seeing a lot more anxiety, stress, exasperation, depression. We’re inundated right now with so much information. And a lot of things are coming up for patients with new and old diagnoses — these chronic diagnoses that are now worsening. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. People go on the Internet or they hear rumors — and that’s pretty bad. But lack of information is almost just as powerfully negative — not hearing anything. So I think people should find the proper resources to get their information — whether it’s a legitimate news channel or other means.”

Dr. Fialkow:
“It’s (constant news coverage) actually been shown to have significant mental health effects … everyone should turn it off a good hour or two before you go to bed …”

Dr. Rohaidy:
“My biggest thing as a psychiatrist is sleep and I try to impart sleep hygiene on all my patients. If we don’t get a good night’s sleep, we’re going to have much more stress and anxiety … So turn the TV off; turn the news off; turn the phones off; turn everything off — a couple of hours before you go to sleep and wind down — absolutely.”

Dr. Fialkow:
“What should people start thinking about when they start hearing a piece of information. What can they do to avoid letting this information lead to a full-blown anxiety or panic reaction?”

Dr. Rohaidy:
“Many of us have to work from home. We’ve got our cellphones. We’ve got tablets and computers and we’re just inundated with information. So I want people to kind of stop, take a breath and really say: Do I really need 12 hours of information. Do I need this constant stimulation. Say that you’re only going to do … 15 minutes of listening to the news and only get your news from a reputable source … We need to really calm down those 12-hour marathons of information.”


For appointments, physician referrals, or second opinions please call us at 786-204-4200. International patients, please call 786-596-2373.

Related Stories


Questions or Concerns About COVID-19? Here’s Where to Start.

Baptist Health South Florida has created several “points of entry” for people who think they or a loved one may have been exposed to COVID-19.

With COVID-19, Safety of Baptist Health’s Patients and Staff is Paramount

As the world learns to live with new challenges posed by COVID-19, the health system is taking extraordinary steps to ensure the safety of patients and staff.
Man taking his blood pressure 

Monitoring, Treating High Blood Pressure in the COVID-19 Era

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is very common across the U.S., with an estimated one out of every two or three adults suffering from this major risk factor for heart attack or stroke.
Man sitting talking to doctor 

Doctors Blame Fear of COVID-19 for Sharp Decrease in Heart Attack and Stroke Cases at Hospital ERs

Doctors across the country have reported a significant drop in the number of patients they’re treating for heart attacks, strokes and other acute illnesses.
Woman placing her hand on her forehead 

When COVID-19 Attacks the Heart, Even Without Lung Damage

As many as an estimated 20 percent of COVID-19 patients are developing heart problems — and some are dying of heart failure or cardiac arrest.
Woman placing her hand on her forehead 

Heart Palpitations: Here’s When to Seek Medical Help

Palpitations often refers to a “racing heart beat” that’s not associated with exercise. But when is this condition something serious that needs medical attention?