Over the last six months, starting from late December 2019, the world has been ravaged by a deadly new virus known as COVID-19. This virus is also known to the world as Coronavirus, and the origins can be traced back to Wuhan City, China.
During the six months since its spread in Wuhan City, it has reached to every corner of the globe. On its path of destruction, the deadly virus has taken nearly 610,496 lives. With no way to cure people of the virus, the world government has since taken steps to enforce a lockdown.
As a part of the lockdown, people have been advised to stay indoors in an attempt to halt the spread of Coronavirus. While some countries have managed to convince their natives to follow the rules and flatten the curve, others have not been so successful.
The only constant among these countries has been a downward slide in terms of economy and a rise in mental health issues. One of the most common mental health issues that people all over the world are currently facing is depression.To understand a “depressed” person, one should realize the inability caused by it.
What is Depression?
In psychological terms, depression has been classified as a mood disorder. For ease of understanding, depression has been described as a feeling of sadness, loss, or anger.
Depression is said to have a profound impact, albeit negative on how a person performs daily activities. Now, it may seem shocking to many, but depression is quite common in this day and age.
A person can be hit with depression if he/she losses his/her job. There are a high number of cases of capable individuals losing their jobs because of the Coronavirus. The experts suggest that these individuals may have or will, at some point, be hit by depression.
Now, doctors have also stated and considered feelings of grief to fall under depression if they continue for a long time. After all, depression carries on in its merry way while hardly giving the victim any break.
According to experts, depression can hit a person and keep the person feeling depressed for months, years, etc. With that said, here are a few essential and signs of depression
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
- Less eager to take part in daily activities
- Tired or loss of energy without working
- Prolonged physical movement and talking ability
- Feeling agitated and restless
- Recurrent thoughts of suicide
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Having a problem with making decisions or concentrating
Depression does not have the same impact on everyone’s mindset. For men who have feelings of depression, it is highly likely for them to show excess anger or drinking alcohol excessively.
As for the females, having a sense of depression can have a different effect on them compared to males. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women are twice as likely to have depression as men. Some of their signs and symptoms are:
- Mood swings
- Thinking about negative emotions
- Recalling past hurtful memories
- Withdrawal from social activities like spending time with friends
- Having trouble focusing on schoolwork
- Feeling restless like, being unable to sit still
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helpless
Global Estimation and Prevalence of Depression
Despite the current scenario, depression is widespread among individuals of all ages. The total number of victims can vary at times, but this number is said to be more than 264 million people. If the feeling of depression persists for a long time, and it makes people quite intense, then it is best to get professional help.
After all, depression makes people suffer on a financial level by making them unable to concentrate on work. This condition can render people helpless and unable to connect with their family members.
However, when depression takes on its most menacing form, it leads to suicide. As per the reports, it is estimated that nearly 1000,000 people commit suicide every year. This condition leads the list for the second-highest cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.
Healthcare, Individual, and Societal Burden of Depression
As previously mentioned, depression can occur due to having complex interactions regarding social, psychological, and biological components. For the majority of the cases, the victims reportedly undergo tragic life events like unemployment, grief as well as psychological trauma. As a result of depression, the victim can feel even more stressed than usual and start to dysfunction.
According to the business case, the costs related to treating depression have every chance of being offset by gains when it comes to worker productivity in other healthcare spending. The societal burden of depression is driven by healthcare usage as well as worker productivity.
There are countless instances of depression, leading a person to heavy use of healthcare accompanied by spending. However, the majority of this is not the outcome of costs related to treating depression.
One of the profound impacts that depression has on an individual is to lead them to absenteeism. Besides, depression causes people to be much less productive at work than usual. So, there can be no doubt that there is an economic burden of depression as well.
Even in this day and age, it has been hard for people to get access to proper treatment for depression. While there has been a slight improvement in terms of accessing care, the problem lies far more profound. The quality of the care that everyone can access has very little consistency with the national treatment guidelines for several
Latest statistics on Corona-virus-induced depression
According to the data from the Census Bureau, one in every three American citizens are displaying signs and symptoms of depression or clinical anxiety.
This can be considered a wake-up call which hints at the psychological impact Coronavirus is having on people’s mental health.
A series of questions had been asked to a group of people. These questions are generally used for screening patients concerning mental health issues. Of all of these people, 24 percent displayed noticeable signs of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). Besides, another 30 percent showed signs that pointed towards a generalized anxiety disorder.
This outcome suggests a significant jump from the time before the pandemic hit. For instance, in response to one question regarding depressed mood, the percentage displaying similar symptoms had doubled from the amount found when conducting a national survey during 2014.
According to a relatively recent study, there has been a significant increase in the number of people who have reported alarming levels of depression in the UK. This situation came to be after the announcement of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.
The timing of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s announcement that the Britons were to stay in lockdown coincides with the increase in the number of reports about feelings of depression.
In fact, on 24th March, exactly 24 hours after the Prime Minister’s announcement, the number of reports from people stating that they feel depressed rose to 38 percent. On the other hand, there was an increase in the number of people suffering from anxiety as well, with a 36 percent increase.
There was a direct comparison of the reports the day before the announcement with the day after it. The change is quite drastic since the number of reports about a feeling of depression before the statement was 16 percent. Besides, the number of reports on that same day about feeling anxiety had been 17 percent only.
Impact of Coronavirus on Depression from Multiple Viewpoints
While the worldwide financial crisis that lasted from 2007-2009 had a profound impact on mental health, the new pandemic can easily beat it.
For a while now, renowned psychiatrists and psychologists have gone on record to say that the Coronavirus will profoundly impact people’s mental health. Some experts suggested that mental health can be monitored with smartphones in real-time.
So, they are looking to tailor support for specific groups like children as well as front-line health workers. The problem here is that it has been made quite clear through surveys that people are already being affected by depression and isolation. Moreover, they are finding it hard to access the support that can make a difference.
According to renowned professors, the sudden increase of social isolation coupled with loneliness and economic downturn can be enough to cause people’s mental wellbeing to worsen. With a current social setting, some victims state that it is natural for them to have feelings of anxiety. This can be caused by watching news coverage and having concerns over your physical wellbeing.
Now, it may be possible to predict the number of people suffering from anxiety and stress during this pandemic. However, the number of victims suffering from depression and prone to self-harming will be on the rise. It is strongly being suggested that this number will surpass those who are victims of an anxiety attack.
The number of calls being made to several mental healthcare hotlines has drastically increased. These hotlines try to provide a certain degree of cognitive support. However, it may not be enough, given the current situation. The people who live with depression are having to face the following scenarios:
- Feeling anxiety about their financial condition
- Having problems with getting access to medications
- Withdrawing more because of social isolation
- Having a deep feeling of helplessness and hopelessness because of an uncertain future
There is widespread public fear in nearly every country of the world with regards to Coronavirus. Much of this fear spreads from the fact that there are a lot of uncertainties that lead people to worry too much.
There are instances of people suffering too much and spiraling out of control. This can easily lead to panic and anxiety. Moreover, it is believed that anxiety and depression stem from just one biological vulnerability. As such, it is normal for one to lead to the other.
Recognizing what is ideal and what is not
By definition, stress is considered to be a standard psychological and physical reaction that comes about due to the demands of life. Not every person has the same response to a crisis, and there is no problem in worrying and feeling stressed when a crisis hits.
However, taking on several different challenges each day, as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, helps with pushing you above the ability to hope.
A large number of people start experiencing mental health concerns, like symptoms of anxiety and depression at this point. There is a chance that feelings start changing over time.
Even if you try to give your best effort, it can lead you to feel helpless, sad, angry, irritable, hopeless, anxious, or afraid. This can be massive trouble with regards to concentrating on typical tasks, changes in appetite, body aches, and pains, or difficulty sleeping, or you may find it hard to face routine chores.
The signs and symptoms can exist for several days in a row, making your life miserable and be the cause of problems in your regular life so that you find it hard to carry out typical responsibilities. However, there is no problem, and it’s time to ask for help.
Sociodemographic Impact on Depression in COVID-19
Young adults, as well as adolescents, are highly likely to have psychological health problems during this period. Any stressful event has the potential to predispose people to psychiatric disorders and particularly depression.
It is natural for that number to be high among adolescents and young adults of today. After all, this is the first time for most of them to come across such a deadly virus.
Finding a cure for Coronavirus can lead adolescents and young adults to feel extremely anxious that can lead to depression.
Impact of Corona-induced Depression on Physical Health
Coping mechanism in place, it is impossible to do so. As such, a large number of people have become accustomed to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
After all, when you are bored or feeling lonely and struggle financially, it can be stressful. On the other hand, if you have to carry on the juggling act of working and home-schooling your children, then it can take a toll.
It will take little time for these people to find unhealthy means of coping with their situation. Some of the most common harmful coping mechanisms are binge drinking, drug abuse, and stress eating. These are all attempts to self-medicate the mood. In a time like this, it can offer temporary relief, but in turn, they can make your feeling of depression even more harmful. Moreover, it puts pressure on your physical well-being.
As for those who have been laid off because the company wants to cutback on costs, they will have it even harder. These people will struggle to get also the easiest of chores done around the house.
This is by no means their fault, but they are saddled with feelings of hopelessness and unworthiness. Furthermore, it can lead them to have a loss of appetite. In short, it dramatically deteriorates their physical health due to depression.
Managing Depression during COVID-19 Emergency
There is no definite answer as to how long the Coronavirus will stick around for. All forms of life have come to an abrupt halt, and it has led many people to believe that things will never be the same again.
While it may well be true, this scenario and belief have forced people to evolve in terms of collective self-identity rapidly. So, a large number of people have this belief that their place in the world is lost forever.
There are adverse side-effects to believing in these things. For instance, people are now reacting a lot more, even in the case of seemingly minor events. According to the experts, there is a 50% possibility for people to have a stressful day on an average day. However, the chances have drastically increased, with people having to follow home quarantine guidelines.
When a day is filled with stressful events, it is quite okay for ordinary people to become anxious. However, when you are prone to extreme cases of mood swings, in the middle of a stressful and non-stressful day, you at a higher risk of having feelings of depression and anxiety. In a time like this, a lot of people choose to “freeze” instead of “fight” or “flight.” Moreover, they have no motivation whatsoever and lose productivity.
Even when the situation seems sturdy because of all the stress-induced depression, there is still a way out in this pandemic. You can also start exercising if, by technical terms, it is a stressor. In case you didn’t know, a stressor is a component that will activate the stress response. The entire process is similar to how a psychological stressor works.
When you exercise, it strengthens the muscles. Besides, it can also tone your stress system for it to withstand an even higher level of stress in a helpful way. As a result, you will feel less reactive to minor and, in some cases, significant events while quickly recovering from it.
So, by exercising, you can increase your resilience to every form of the stressor, and that includes the psychological ones resulting from the pandemic. According to multiple health experts, you can try engaging in half an hour of average intensity aerobic exercise. You can try it three times every week and it is sure to improve the mood, lessen psychological distress while decreasing signs of depression.
Furthermore, in a recent comparison with anti-depressant drugs, experts have found out that this form of exercise can be just as effective. Moreover, the activities are more beneficial as they don’t come with the harmful side-effects of those medications such as loss of appetite, and nausea.
However, if you have no way to engage in these activities, you are still going to feel the effects of anxiety and depression. So, you will need to look for preventive measures beyond these options.
Preventive Therapeutic Perspectives
Until now, there has been widespread discussion of physical health and how it is getting damaged due to depression. The ways to minimize distress among the general public need to be addressed. There are a few ways in which you can prevent the degradation of your mental health:
- Acknowledge the fact you are feeling pressured by the suddenness of the situation around you. There is no shame in handling stress when the situation becomes unpredictable, and it is not a sign of weakness. Denying that you are feeling anxious will make you sink further into depression.
- Support the members of your community by showing compassion and empathy. You can encourage people to communicate with each other and reduce social isolation. This can take place through mobile phones or online. Moreover, you can also interact with others maintaining all the rules of safety. Most importantly, you should not bottle up your feelings because it can be harmful to your mental health.
- Make it a necessity to check up on people who are being marginalized. The primary role for you is to make sure that they do not feel neglected under any circumstance. If these people are disabled, then you need to make sure that they learn of the proper guidelines to maintain safety. Moreover, if they are unable to meet their basic needs, then you can do it for them. When you help others in need, it can increase your sense of self-worth, and you can avoid feeling unworthy and hopeless.
- If you still feel like there aren’t enough people that you can interact with, you should not breakdown. You can keep a journal around and write whatever experiences you have. Writing a journal has therapeutic effects that a lot of people are unaware of. For instance, you can jot down any event that takes place in front of you and recall later when needed. Also, it will help you feel relaxed by the time each day ends. There are studies that confirm that writing journals can boost the immune system. You will be able to analyze your feelings better and, as a result, feel emotionally healthy.
- Meditate for some time every day. You don’t always need a mat to sit down and meditate. At first, it can seem very hard to maintain your focus. There will be a plethora of thoughts that will run through your mind and stop you from concentrating. The key here is to stop fighting these thoughts. After all, the more you fight them, the fewer chances you have of ever finding your focus. When you give in to these thoughts, you will start to concentrate better, and meditation will be able to help you have a clear mind.
With an uncertain future ahead, it can seem quite hard to think rationally. However, you will need to understand that everyone is in the same river. Soon enough, you will find people who are on the same boat, and you will then have to reach the shore together. In the end, those who can survive this feeling of depression and anxiety during the Coronavirus outbreak will become mentally stronger than before.
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