There is so much uncertainty present in the world right now; how long are we going to be quarantined for? How long will I be out of work? When can I go to the gym again or out to eat with my friends and family? These are all questions that are presently on the minds of so many individuals and unfortunately there is no clear understanding to answer these questions, which can ultimately cause a lot of stress and anxiety. With so much change and uncertainty it creates an increase in mental health concerns and leaves so many with this fear of the unknown and the confusion of what to do moving forward
Depression and Anxiety due to Covid
Mental illnesses tend to interfere with the ability to engage socially or professionally. It tends to involve our communication skills, thinking patterns, behaviors, and emotional state. When these areas within our lives are affected it typically causes concerns in all areas of our lives especially with how we engage with friends and family but also ourselves. It’s important to note that mental illness itself can take multiple forms; it can be severe or mild in the intensity of the disorder. Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States.” The CDC provides the following statistics;
- More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.
- 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
- 1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness.
Due to Covid, there has been an increase in mental health more particularly depression and anxiety because of the social distancing and the fear of the unknown in a way due to so much that is unknown right now in our society and how to navigate through this difficult time. According to the University of Southern California after completing their own survey of how COVID has affected individuals it was noted that; “The anxiety and depression experienced by U.S. residents since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic peaked in early April, according to a USC national tracking survey measuring the impact of the coronavirus on the lives of Americans. 40% of U.S. residents reported feeling anxious and 29% felt depressed in early April.”
Contributing factors for Anxiety and Depression during Covid
There is no real understanding of how to navigate through this difficult time right now, there is no play book for how to respond or act for anyone right now. The coronavirus pandemic has increased the negative feelings and concerns present for so many individuals. From constant news stories about the spread of the virus and death, to economic hardships such as loss of jobs and income, it has become challenging and contributed to this constant worry about the future. Being forced to isolate and social distance has been very difficult for so many individuals because it has enforced this loneliness feeling for so many individuals especially those who have become so comfortable with being so active and socially engaged on a daily basis. The fear of being diagnosed with COVID or interacting with others have also contributed to the anxiety and depression that has been increased during this time. The fear of leaving your house or socially engaging with others during this time has created an increase in anxious thoughts because of the inability to control what is going on around you especially when there is so much unknown present with this condition.
What can I do to help manage the Anxiety and Depression?
Stay Active and Connected with Others
During this time it’s really important to continue to manage those relationships around you. That saying it takes a village to raise a child, well it takes a village to help you maintain your own well being as well! It’s important to focus on building support and strengthen relationships although social distancing is in effect right now. Due to this it may seem almost impossible to have those connections but you can with some creativity; zoom calls, FaceTime, yard picnics, etc. Challenge yourself to be more open minded and engaged with others even when you want to just isolate and lay around by yourself all day. Create some fun things to do like an online trivia night with your friends or a working lunch via zoom with your co-workers. Something to get you to be more social really can be so beneficial for your own emotional health.
Maintain Self Care
During this time you really want to make sure you are taking care of your body. Not only do you need to make sure you are mindful about your physical health but also your emotional health. Some ways you can do this is by making sure you get enough sleep, attempt to maintain a schedule as you would have done prior to covid, participate in regular physical activity, eat healthy, limit screen time (turn off electronic devices for some time each day, including 30 minutes before bedtime. Make a conscious effort to spend less time in front of a screen — television, tablet, computer and phone), Relax and recharge (even a few minutes of meditation and breathing exercises can be refreshing and help to quiet your mind and reduce anxiety), and focus on positive thinking to help you manage those anxious and depressed feelings by challenging the negative mindset with more positive thinking.
Reach out for Help
With a lot of places closed it is important to express your concerns and needs. If you are involved in counseling services and they have been closed due to the quarantine then reach out to the agency and ask them for resources. Telehealth has become a primary resource during COVID for so many individuals including essential workers to help process the anxious and depressed feelings presently. There are a lot of options that take place online including therapy; betterhelp, talkspace, LARKR, and bright side to name a few. Most accept insurance plans as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance and your questions about this process.
Make a gratitude list
Focus on the positive and what is working out in the moment. Sit down and create a gratitude list. Challenge yourself to do this everyday. Focus on what you can control in this time of need and rejoice the accomplishments and the good things coming your way presently. Recognizing what you are grateful for can really have a positive effect on any crisis situation and allow you to feel more confident when trying to manage the situation.