The Pandemic Blues:
Covid and Depression

Youth Has Never Had to Face So Much Loss Before

Before Covid, depression certainly existed. But, there’s a new face to depression. It’s the face of profound sadness that can be seen in those that have gone through war or a natural disaster or some other type of tragedy. And what’s even more striking is that we have never seen such sorrow in the eyes of our younger generation.

As Covid continues, facing the death of family members has been particularly hard on the young. And if they have been fortunate enough to have escaped the loss a loved one, the younger generation has still had to face an overwhelming sense of loss on so many other levels – the loss of their normal lives both at home and at school. Perhaps they missed out on their senior year of high school – the football games, the prom, graduation. Some have had to attend their first year of college, virtually, missing out on all the wonderful social things that happen when you attend college in person. They have lost out on a part of growing up that they will never get back – their lives have been forever changed.

For the rest of us, we feel the collective sadness of a pandemic that has swept across the world and wiped out many of the compromised and feeble, as well as the unexpected strong.

Many people never got the closure to say goodbye to their loved ones or give them a proper funeral. Mental health experts say that this lack of closure can delay emotional healing. If you haven’t lost a loved one, you still feel the impact of the profound loss of life, as well as the sense of normalcy and comfort we once had.

Living in Isolation Has Made Things Particularly Difficult For Some

Government efforts to reduce the virus included quarantine, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing. For the 28% of people who lived by themselves, this meant being away from people for months. Within the first month of COVID-19, loneliness increased by 20%-30% and emotional distress tripled. Months of social distancing, wearing masks and living in quarantine away from loved ones, has made many people feel more alone than ever, triggering depression or making it worse.

But Beyond Depression, There is Hope

While it may feel like the world is coming to an end, please know that there is hope. If you have been withdrawing from activities you used to enjoy, or if you are having difficulty eating, sleeping or getting out of bed, you may be suffering from depression. May it be of some comfort to remember that we are all going through the same daily struggles living in a pandemic. While the challenges may be different, we can relate to our lives changing in ways that we have never imagined.

How to Cope with Your Depression While Living in a Pandemic:

Use Video to Stay Connected Virtually

~ While you may not be able to get a mood boost through face-to-face contact, you can still connect through texts, video and phone calls. Reach out to close friends and family and schedule an online get-together.

~ If you are not able to visit your loved ones at the hospital, you can still send your virtual love to them through video chats or phone calls. Facilities understand how tragic it is to not be near your loved ones and they are more than willing to try to accommodate you.

~If you were not able to attend a funeral for your loved one, create a video chat or phone call for the people who knew the person who passed away. Talk about how much that person meant to you and the impact they had on your life. This can be a powerful healing ritual.

Find a Support Group

You can also find an online (or in person) support (or bereavement) group to help bridge the gap of loneliness that the pandemic has created. There are many support groups that are meeting virtually and members are finding comfort in being able to share their experiences with one another. This can help ease the pain of loss and perhaps help you to feel a little less alone.

Walk Outside in Nature

While the world has gone through significant changes as a result of the pandemic, one thing that has not changed is nature. We can walk outside and obtain a sense of peace and calm. Fresh air and sunlight can be just what you need. The smell of the sea or seeing the blooming flowers, or hearing the birds chirping just as they always have, can be a comforting anchor among all the chaos of the rest of the world.

Practice Self-care

Now, more than ever, is a time to really focus on taking extra good care of yourself.

~ Make sure that you are getting enough rest.
~ Make yourself a special meal and set the table, even if it’s just for you.
~ Do something nice for yourself – start a new hobby, read that book you’ve been wanting to delve into, or watch one of your favorite movies.
~ Practice breathing exercises and meditation as a way to self-regulate.
~ Set some small achievable goals for yourself like cleaning out that messy junk drawer.
~ Self-care Journal – write down your thoughts and feelings to help process your experiences

Seek Professional Help

Depression is a condition that no one should have to face alone. If your symptoms are too hard to manage on your own, please reach out to a professional who is trained to help you cope with your feelings and overwhelming symptoms. Together, through depression therapy, you and a trained therapist can map out a plan that is specifically tailored to help uplift your spirits so you can feel joy again.

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