COVID 19 has done much more than inconvenience people, it has a much darker and dangerous side. A disturbing consequence of the isolation and loneliness sparked by stay-at-home policies, that problem is the rising current of depression.
While depression is treatable, the sheer numbers of people who may be feeling its effects are staggering. This article will focus on depression during the COVID 19 pandemic and how you can avoid becoming a statistic.
What is Major Depressive Disorder?
Every human being on planet earth experiences times when they feel sad or down in their mood. These moods may be augmented by the death of a loved one or the loss of a job or any of a myriad of other life-altering events.
However, major depression is a serious disease that can turn deadly if severe enough and left untreated.
Major depressive disorder (MDD), otherwise known as clinical depression, is a condition characterized by a persistent down mood, loss of interest in activities, and impairment in how one lives their life.
Other symptoms of major depressive disorder may include any or all of the following:
- Angry outbursts
- Frustration, even over small matters
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Unexplained physical problems, such headaches
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts and actions
Clinical depression is a life-changing disorder that can strike anyone, especially during times of isolation, such as the COVID 19 pandemic.
COVID 19 AS A Possible Cause of Clinical Depression
There are three leading causes of clinical depression, including physical, psychological, and social situations. There may also be a genetic component as well, but the jury is out on that one.
Some physical conditions can cause MDD, including having a serious or chronic illness such as cancer, chronic pain, or heart disease. It is well-documented that people who undergo open-heart surgery often experience a period of profound depression after the procedure.
Psychological causes of clinical depression include experiencing an anxiety disorder, eating disorder, or complex post-traumatic stress disorder. The depression might deepen if someone uses alcohol or recreational drugs in an attempt to self-medicate.
During the COVID 19 pandemic, the social situations of most people have been altered and could mean more isolation and loneliness. It is for this reason that depression has become a significant problem that may last long after the quarantine has been lifted.
Three Possible Methods for Beating Major Depression
It is vital before we delve into the three methods that work to beat major depression that we urge you to seek out medical advice. Major depression is not like the common cold, it happens and will run its course and go away. Instead, clinical depression is a serious illness, and only by seeing your medical professional can you rule out any other causes for your illness. Also, seeing a medical professional is a crucial step to receiving a referral to a therapist if you need one.
That having been said, the idea behind finding methods to defeat depression is that currently, the vast majority of us are sheltering in place and are isolated from our regular social routines.
There are many other ways to beat depression, but these three methods are an excellent place to begin.
Concentrate on Something Good. Very often, depression forces the sufferer to think only of the failures in their life and how isolated they have become. However, to change the way you feel psychologically, it is vital to improving your stinking thinking.
One method to do this is to think of something good that has happened to you, such as the memory of a fun vacation or the promotion you got at work. Concentrating on good things is not easy during depression since it feels more natural to center on the negatives. But in changing your thinking, you can vastly improve your mood.
Do Some Planning. It is all too easy for a person who is depressed to think about their life over or that they have no future. One way to defeat those thought processes is to sit down with a piece of paper and write down things you want to do in the future.
Plan a birthday party, or how you can save money. Make a bucket list of things you want to do in your life. Concentrate on the things that matter to you and plan to achieve any goals you make.
Acknowledge Something to Look Forward To. Depression tends to capture a person and convince them they are never going anywhere in life. However, if you can acknowledge things to look forward to, such as a concert, trip, or holiday, it becomes harder to remain a captive.
Do not just think of things to look forward to but buy those concert or airplane tickets and plan the shopping trip you have written down. This will definitely enhance your mood and move you back towards normalcy.
Medication for Clinical Depression
Medications can help ease some of the symptoms of major depression. A few examples of the distinct types of antidepressants are listed below.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Atypical antidepressants
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
All antidepressants have side effects, with some having more than others and that vary among differing people. However, the side effects are much easier to manage and deal with than the deep depression they are meant to treat.
One defining problem people have with taking medications for depression is that they both think they should handle it on their own and that others will look down on them for being “weak.” Both assumptions are decidedly false. Also, people who take medications for depression, a medical problem, are no different than those who must take medications for high blood pressure or diabetes. One is not weak because they are ill.
Changing Your Reaction to the COVID 19 Isolation to Prevent Depression
It would be much better to never become depressed during this time of isolation due to the COVID 19 crisis. There are many things one can do to lessen the impact of isolation on your mental health, including the following:
Reach out virtually to family and friends. Most people have a smartphone or computer in their home today. By using Zoom or one of the other virtual platforms, it becomes comfortable to sit and visit with a friend or family member without having physical contact with them. Although you would love to get a hug or kiss from your sister or grandkids, right now, virtual reaching is the best for the safety of all.
Join an Online Group. There are literally thousands of online groups on the web, covering almost every aspect of life, from knitting to astronomy. Think about your needs and abilities and find a group that lines up with them. However, be cautious. Do not donate or pay money to join a group unless you are confident they are legitimate.
Enjoy Your Pet. Pets are like members of the household and hold a special place in our hearts. So, why not use them to help with the isolation and loneliness many of us are experiencing during the COVID 19 crisis? In the United States alone, 67% of homes (85 million families) own a pet. If you are one of them, then spend a lot of time doting and petting your dog, cat, or other pet.
The Bottom Line
There is no doubt that the social isolation caused by the COVID 19 crisis can bring on depression, there is no reason that it must. By practicing good self-care, many will be able to either defeat their depressed mood or keep themselves from falling into the abyss of depression altogether.
However, many people will find themselves living in the utter despair that can accompany clinical depression. For those of us who need help, it is vital to reach out to our doctors and take medication if it is prescribed.
There is no magic pill or formula for beating depression. Still, one should always listen to the advice of their doctor plus do what they can to keep from becoming another COVID 19 victim.
If you or someone you know is having difficulty with clinical depression, please, call for help. Depression can lead to suicidal ideation and behaviors.
“Life is like the oil within a lamp. It can be measured, but the pace at which it burns depends on how the dial is turned day by day, how bright and fierce the flame. And there is no predicting whether the lamp might be knocked to the ground and shatter when it could have blazed on a great while longer. Such is the unpredictability of life.” ~ Margaret Rogerson
“Cast aside any predictions or assumptions that you have about life – what you think is going to happen never does.” ~ Stewart Stafford