Depression And Its Impact
According to the World Health Organization (WHO),
“Depression is a common illness worldwide, with more than 264 million people affected. Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Especially when long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school, and in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.”World Health Organization (WHO)
Mental Health Post-COVID 19
Depression is often characterized by loneliness, lack of interest in just about everything.
There are no fixed rules in depression. A person who seems perfectly happy and normal may be suffering from acute depression without showing any symptoms but suffering silently. Of late, depression rates and mental health problems are on the increase. This is the result of frequent and prolonged lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, work from home has become the new normal to ensure social distancing to contain the viral outbreak. However, this has resulted in a “from the frying pan to the fire” kind of situation. On one hand, the virus is being curbed with much difficulty, on the other, mental health problems are on the rise.
Post-COVID, it is being widely inferred that staying home is causing depression in many people. While that may be true, it is also unwise to assume that staying home indeed leads to mental depression. Let’s think of it this way. For generations, people (more women than men) have always been home as homemakers, full-time mothers and caregivers and not all of them have suffered depression. Several women have excelled as mothers and homemakers in their own right. They kept themselves busy, cooking, cleaning, caring for children and the elderly, decorating their houses, gardening, knitting, sewing, painting, etc. Essentially, staying at home can be a fulfilling experience too if we want it to be.
However, to be fair, the new normal post-COVID has wreaked havoc on mental health. This is because recreational activities have come to a standstill for billions of people who were used to hanging out with friends, watching a movie with their partner, taking their kids out to the park, going clubbing with friends, chilling at the cafe, getting a massage at the spa, etc. In the new normal, people find themselves spending time at home even when they don’t wish to. Life as we knew it has gone out of balance and not everyone is coping with this huge change.
For example, interpersonal relationships with spouses and partners are also seeing challenges as couples are sending all their time together which is unhealthy. This is leading to frequent arguments, disagreements, and fights which may be contributing to depression. So, in many ways, staying at home could be a trigger for certain factors responsible for rising mental health problems. This applies to people who are new to staying at home for days on end.
Mental Health In The New Normal
Anything new takes time getting used to and the road is not always smooth. The same can be said about people who suddenly find themselves isolated from friends, family, partners and colleagues. Life as we knew it has changed drastically as a result of the pandemic. However, it is up to us to either accept it and move on or resist it and be miserable. Our mental health depends on a host of factors. Our happiness is in our own hands and a positive attitude towards life’s changes that is important. Thus it is, in our view, not right to say that staying at home causes depression. People who are leading perfectly normal lives – working, singing, dancing, etc. — are also known to have suffered from depression. Depression can affect anyone, anytime and in various forms. It is a very subjective matter and not cut and dry like ingesting infected food and getting diarrhea.
Yes, simply staying home and doing nothing is definitely difficult and if we let this situation overwhelm us, things can certainly take a turn for the worse. Staying home all the time and/or staying home can be used to our advantage if we are willing. In case, you are working from home, are quarantined or isolated due to COVID-19 and/or suffering from depression, according to the Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, stick to the following:
1. Adhere To Your Treatment
If you are affected by COVID-19 and/or depression continue your medication as prescribed by your health advisor. Consume nutritious foods that help boost immunity and vitality. Eating the right food can also battle depression.
2. Positive Self-Talk
Yes, this situation is challenging but it is also temporary. Remind yourself this every day and envision what you would like to do after the pandemic is over and life gets back to normal e.g. taking a vacation with family or a solo trip.
3. Control Your Stress Levels
Stress is a silent killer. In this situation, there is already a lot of stress to deal with and you don’t need more. Engage yourself in activities you enjoy like cooking, baking, reading, online meetings with family and friends, work, exercise — walking, running, aerobics, etc. — or a hobby like painting, writing, etc. Be consistent and stress levels will reduce gradually.
Depression is a dangerous mental disease that affects millions of people around the world. It also drives thousands of people to suicide every year. What is most tragic about depression is that it is a perfectly preventable and curable disease. Still, millions fall victim to it. While many recover with the right support and treatment, others are not so fortunate and lose their lives to this terrible disease. The new normal has certainly made life difficult for us but this does not mean we let it overwhelm us and submit to depression.
Let us not forget that people from previous generations have endured far more difficult and challenging circumstances. Depression resulting from staying home can be prevented and controlled. While we hope that these tips will help you to keep your mind occupied, they are not a solution to depression. If you are feeling depressed, take action immediately; seek the help you must.
If you think you are starting to have anxiety, feeling low, mood swings to more serious symptoms like a complete lack of interest in work, hobbies, a loss of appetite, have trouble sleeping and/or feeling lonely, seek help. This could mean self-help like setting a routine for yourself and doing things you like, seeking support from family and friends and/or getting professional help. There is no shame in admitting to having depression but much harm can come from hiding it or ignoring it.