As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 33% of the population in the USA are exhibiting one or more symptoms of depression. This is up from 7% in 2019.
The factors that have contributed to this massive increase in just one year are most certainly embedded in the COVID019 experience that no one is exempt from with the ongoing rise of new positive cases and deaths.
As of August 8, 2020, there are 4,950,708 positive cases of the Coronavirus in the USA. Up to this date, 160,977 family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues have died. At this point, it is rare to find someone who has not been directly or indirectly affected by the Coronavirus.
The most significant factors that have negatively affected the vast majority of the population include:
- Fear of an Uncertain Future
- Grief over Loss and Death
- Conflict with Other People
- Separation from Loved Ones
- Loss of Financial Resources
Any one of these factors on its own might cause a depressive episode for some people; however, when all of them occur concurrently they create the perfect storm for a struggle with the symptoms of depression.
Each body has its own experience with physical and mental health. The nature and nurture of how each person experiences depression is as varied as there are people with a mental health diagnosis. While there might be similarities in the ways in which people live with depression, no two people will have an identical set of symptoms.
Some of the most significant symptoms for people struggling with depression in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic are:
- Feeling Prolonged Deep Sadness
- Erupting in Angry Outbursts
- Losing Interest in Hope and Happiness
- Experiencing Erratic Sleep Patterns
- Reliving Stressful Thoughts and Feelings
Oftentimes people confuse being sad with being depressed. Depression is often experienced with prolonged periods of sadness that are persistent.
When someone is sad while everyone and everything around them is about feeling some other feeling, it might be a sign to pay attention to for further understanding.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people are struggling with keeping enough wick on their fuse to avoid exploding in anger. All too often, there are news reports or social media posts showing deranged people acting out in anger.
Anger can be expressed in healthy and appropriate ways when people are self-aware and hold themselves to the rules of engagement in a civilized society.
People have hobbies and devote time to things that make them feel happy and fulfilled. When people lose interest in gardening, knitting, reading, walking, baking, or exercising; they are cutting themselves off from the things that balance out their lives.
The lack of hope that people feel when they are depressed has an impact on their ability to relate to their family and friends. The sense of alienation further complicates the symptoms of their depression.
The number of people who are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is estimated to be between 50 and 70 million. They are not getting enough sleep on a nightly basis or within a given month.
When people do not get enough sleep there are physical and mental health side effects that might include body aches and pains or slower cognitive responses.
Each person has as many as 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts per day. When those thoughts are relentlessly focused on the negativity of their life experience, it only deepens the other symptoms of the depression. While the thoughts coming into their minds can not be controlled, they can certainly be examined for validity.
Where people have too many thoughts focused on the negative over a sustaining period of time, it leaves them deeper in the grips of depression.
One of the worst things people can experience when they are struggling with depression, is when other people try to prop them up with Toxic Positivity. When people who are not experiencing any of the symptoms of depression try to paint the picture of a positive recovery for those with severe depression, it can only exacerbate the situation.
People who are in the midst of a depressive episode are not supported by others telling them to get over it, to move on, or some other perceived motivational cliché. Real depression requires real strategies for healing.
Recovering from depression is just as possible as healing from any physical health challenge. The best recovery plans are holistic and include the body, mind, and spirit.
One way that the body can heal from depression includes medicines that might support the chemical reactions in the brain, there are both natural over the counter and prescribed options for consideration. Another way to heal with the support of the body, is exercise. Getting up and moving releases hormones that support brain functions.
When people meditate, they alter their pathways in the brain which leads to discovering new ones. Those new ones might very well interrupt people with depression from going to the darker places. Distinguishing the difference between a factual thought and an irrational thought helps people see their reality clearer.
Spiritual practices have the power to support people in aligning with a higher purpose and view of life. When people can see the big picture along with their day to day life, they are more likely to find more peace and calm.
My personal journey of experiencing depression during the COVID-19 pandemic is rooted in my occasional Seasonal Affective Disorder that goes all the way back to my 30s. I realized then that the loss of daylight in the winter created for me a prolonged sadness.
I am confident that my previous experiences with recovering from depression along with my ongoing learnings about it, will support me as I move through this current episode. My confidence supports me in finding hope again.
Given the alarmingly high number of people who are likely experiencing a depressive episode in the middle of the COVID-pandemic, each of us might very well know someone who could use some support in their recovery journey.
Will you reach out to someone today and have a heartfelt conversation with them? It might do you both good!!!