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We sure didn’t ask for this! Somehow, the coronavirus, a silent and invisible threat to our physical and mental health, has decided to invade our world. And for many, depression is now setting in.
In dribs and drabs, the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months. Still, the nation remains in the grip of a pandemic. Hopes of a speedy resolution have faded as the reality sinks in that life has changed in profound ways—at least temporarily. All of this is just too much for many to process and accept, which has led to an increase in mental health issues, including depression.
Depression is not to be taken lightly. As the country winds through the Covid-19 crisis we are challenged to keep our spirits up amid financial uncertainty, fear of catching the virus, and all the many cancelled plans we had been looking forward to. Knowing what steps to take when depressed over coronavirus is an essential aspect of managing emotions on this unpredictable journey.
When experiencing 5 or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, it is important to seek an evaluation:
- Persistent sadness, hopelessness, despair
- Loss of interest in usual hobbies or activities
- Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
- Slowed thinking and movements
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Change in sleep patterns, insomnia or hypersomnia
- Feelings of inappropriate guilt or shame
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression is a complex mental health disorder. Treating it can be like throwing darts while blindfolded, hoping that the therapy or medication will relieve symptoms. Each individual may have unique factors that contributed to the depressive disorder. Known factors that can play a part include family history, brain chemistry, personality traits, medical conditions, adverse life events such as those caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and substance abuse. Those are only the known factors…science has yet to pin down the exact causes of depression.
Because each person’s depression disorder is unique, it is wise to employ multiple types of treatment to hopefully conquer it. Antidepressants can make a significant improvement in symptoms in 50%-70% of patients who are treated with these drugs. In addition to medication, however, there are several other effective methods to help alleviate depression symptoms.
What Steps Can I Take When Depressed Over Coronavirus
Aside from traditional antidepressant therapy, there are holistic methods and lifestyle choices that can be just as effective in relieving symptoms.
Consider these 6 steps to take when depressed over coronavirus:
- Tele-mental health services. Our ability to visit a therapist may be restricted during the coronavirus pandemic, but we can still access psychological support through tele-mental health services. These video conferencing platforms allow for therapist-patient sessions from the convenience of your home. The therapy sessions are billed to insurance just like in-person sessions.
- Increase physical activity. Science has confirmed repeatedly that there is a powerful connection between getting regular exercise and our mental health, called The Exercise Effect. Exercise offers swift mood enhancing rewards by increasing the production of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ brain chemical. Physical activity is also good for aiding depression symptoms because in increases serotonin and dopamine production.
- Use this time productively. With our options limited, it is easy to sit around and feel glum and depressed. Instead of marinating in a negative state of mind, try to push through and initiate a project or two. Maybe you want to try your hand at planting a garden. Possibly you have always wanted to repaint your bedroom. Immersing yourself in a constructive endeavor will distract you while also giving you a sense of accomplishment.
- Watch what you eat. Who hasn’t gorged on comfort foods during the quarantine? After a week or two of indulging our sweet tooth or hankerings for high-fat meals, it is time to rein it in and address our nutritional needs. When we feel depressed, the last thing we really need are unhealthy foods, so switch to fish and lean proteins, avocados, spinach, whole grains, fresh produce, and anything high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Rekindle your passions. To help turn that frown upside down, why not revisit your passions? Recall the hobbies or activities that you thrived on, even if the depression has you stuck in ‘I don’t care’ mode, and treat yourself to something you love. If you always loved music, why not explore Spotify and download some new playlists? If you enjoy writing, why not start a blog? Love to dance, find a YouTube channel that offers online dance classes.
- Practice mindfulness. When we feel down and depressed, we tend to mull all the negative things over and over in our minds. We fall asleep at night reviewing a litany of bad things in our heads. All that ruminating keeps us stuck in depression. Mindfulness helps train the mind to avoid those distracting negative thoughts and worries, and instead focus attention on the present moment—how am I feeling right now. What sensations am I experiencing. What do I hear, see, smell, feel. And then just accept where you are while focusing on your breathing, and it really helps.
Treatment for Depression
During the coronavirus crisis, do not ignore your need for treatment. If you have tried all the above tips and still struggle with deep depression, consider a residential mental health program for a more intensive and targeted treatment plan. Residential programs offer 24-hour support and monitoring and are following strict CDC guidelines for keeping their facilities safe for patients in need of help during the quarantine for Covid-19.
The Treatment Specialist is Here For You During Coronavirus
The Treatment Specialist is an online mental health and addiction resource that can provide invaluable information and guidance for people seeking help. Our free services can offer depression assessment and treatment options to get you on the road to wellness. If you are wondering what steps to take when depressed over coronavirus, give our team a call at (866) 644-7911.