It’s fascinating how much life can change in a couple of weeks. It’s just the beginning of 2020, and the entire world seems to have stopped.
With the invisible threat of COVID-19, people all over the globe are facing uncertainty and fear while trying to adjust to the rapid changes that have swept up their daily routines. The Coronavirus pandemic, which seemed far-removed from ourselves only two months ago, has invaded our reality, wreaking havoc on everything we’ve ever taken for granted. But what we need to understand is that the pandemic is affecting much more than just the physical aspect of our lives.
For those battling depression, the Coronavirus is not just an illness. It’s a serious obstacle standing in the way of recovery.
The challenge of getting through the current situation is undeniably great. It necessitates hard work and dedication. But, with the right steps, it can be overcome.
Treating depression under regular circumstances
Although the causes of depression aren’t fully understood, treatment is entirely possible. What’s more, it’s highly effective.
Traditionally, depressive disorders are treated with a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy, while current research has shown that numerous complementary therapies can have significant effects as well. Meditation, yoga, art therapy, keeping to a healthy nutrient-dense diet, and doing regular physical exercise are all great ways to ensure improvements in mental health.
However, current world events are making things slightly more complicated.
Challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic
One of the methods most widely used to battle the spread of the Coronavirus is social distancing. Its aim is to slow the spread of the virus through minimizing social contacts, thus ensuring that the health system can handle incoming cases without becoming overwhelmed. In countries where it’s being combined with widespread testing for the virus, the strategy is proving to be working. But, one must not forget about the challenges the entire situation poses to those already battling depression.
First and foremost, social distancing can have severe detrimental consequences on anyone’s mental health. Furthermore, it’s, unfortunately, standing in the way of many of the complementary therapies used to treat depressive disorders.
When staying at home, numbers of people can’t get enough physical exercise, may not have access to healthy food options, or don’t have the opportunity to spend time outside. Even more, for many, the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought on financial instability and increased exposure to anxiety. All of these can have severe detrimental effects on both physical and mental health.
Steps to deal with Coronavirus and depression
The most important thing to keep in mind at the moment is that addressing mental health is equally important to ensuring physical wellbeing. The two are intricately connected, so keeping up with good practices will be the best way to go forward.
- Keeping up with treatment and therapy. If you’re currently getting treatment for depression, the first thing you’ll need to do is consult with your therapist. They’ll give you instructions on how to continue taking your medication. They should also make sure to keep up with your scheduled sessions, most likely by switching to a secure form of remote e-therapy.
- Keep in touch virtually. Although you may not be able to see your friends and loved ones, it’s still important that you keep in touch with them. Luckily, we live in the age of digital communication, where face-to-face communication is as simple as downloading a free app to your smartphone. If you miss engaging in your favorite activities with the people closest to you, try experimenting with online multiplayer video games, or simply have a virtual movie night.
- Put time aside for your hobbies. One of the reasons hobbies are so important is that they offer us a chance to unwind from the stress and challenges of our daily lives. While dealing with Coronavirus, aim to still spend some time doing what you love. Whether it’s reading, puzzling, drawing, or writing, try to find a few hours every week to dedicate to these things that make you happy.
- Eat well. For a lot of people, being in self-isolation or under lockdown can mean having limited access to healthy foods. Still, make sure that you don’t revert to sugary and fatty meals during this pandemic. Try to cook (or order) healthier options, and give yourself the chance to relax with a cup of green tea or coffee, both of which are effective in reducing the risk of depression.
- Get moving. Even those of us who hate going to the gym are likely to miss having some sort of physical exercise. If space permits, incorporate a few exercise sessions in your newfound routine. This can be anything: an online yoga class, 30 minutes on a stationary bike, or simple bodyweight strength exercises that don’t require any equipment.
- Find creative ways to get fresh air. Sitting cooped up can be overwhelming, so try to spend time outside. If you live in a place that isn’t under complete lockdown, look to find a way to go for a short walk without being near others. Or, if that’s not possible, make the most of your sunny balcony or back yard. Even if you don’t have these, you probably have a window that gets some sunlight during the day, so why not sit there for an hour or two, sip your coffee and read a good book?
- Turn off the news. Being in the loop is important. But focusing on the many negative news stories currently circulating can have adverse effects on your mental health, so limit your exposure as much as you can. Instead, try to fill your time with activities that you find relaxing.
Keeping on top of the situation
If you or someone you love is battling depression, keep an eye on your overall wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC recommends looking out for feelings of fear and anxiety, changes in sleeping and eating habits, increased alcohol or substance use, as well as worsening chronic health issues.
If you notice that your depressive disorder symptoms are getting worse, don’t hesitate to contact your therapist or your local mental health hotline. Don’t be afraid to seek out help! After all, dealing with the Coronavirus is scary and unsettling for most of us. But sometimes, even having a simple conversation can have great benefits on our overall state of mind.