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Because of the coronavirus pandemic, signs of stress and depression are elevated throughout many parts of the world, including right here in Kansas.


One sign of mental illness is neglecting responsibilities. For farmers and ranchers, this can translate into not taking care of either their animals or crops.


Traffic to the newly minted Kansas Department of Agriculture’s AgStress website has increased in recent weeks. This website offers resources for farmers and ranchers.


"Over the last four weeks, the website is up 18% on visitors," said Jason Walker, of the KDA. "Over this last week, it’s up 33%."


Although the number of visitors is small, about 100 per week, Walker said he is glad the site is helping.


"This is a very stressful time for everybody, and feeling stress is a natural response to these uncertain times," said David Bradley, Ph.D. in clinical psychology and graduate school psychology professor at Pittsburg State University. "One of the things that people under stress do is they forget the healthy habits."


Whether it is going for a walk, drinking water or feeding the cows, staying involved is important.


"You need to maintain your habits and routine as much as possible," Bradley said. "Keep up with friends and family. Maintain a connection to your religious community."


Has social distancing changed into social isolation?


"Social distance is a misnomer. The goal is physical distance," Bradley said. "Even though we’re physically distancing, we should not be social distancing."


Sometimes concentration falters and people’s thoughts begin to race.


"Problems with concentration can either arise or become exacerbated," Bradley said. "Imagine doing a crossword puzzle and reading one question and then picking up the next question right away without answering the first. Until you are able to slow that process down, you are not able to complete the crossword puzzle."


The facts


Keep your perspective. In Kansas, as of April 21, 2,025 individuals, or 0.06% of the state’s population, have tested positive for COVID-19.


General signs of stress


Mental Issues:


• Problems with concentrating


• Racing thoughts


• Obsessive worry


• Not thinking rationally


Behavior changes:


• Changing sleep habits


• • Dramatic increases or decreases in eating


Turning to substances: alcohol, drugs or tobacco


• Forgetting to eat, shower or groom oneself


• Greater irritability


• Neglecting tasks


Physical symptoms:


• Upset stomach


• Sore muscles


• Tension headaches


Healthy water consumption when you’re anxious and depressed is crucial. If you exhibit or you know someone who exhibits several of the above signs, reach out to a health care professional or call a hot-line.