COVID-19 and Mental Health

The coronavirus pandemic has changed modern-day life as we know it. The effects of time spent in isolation, away from friends, families, loved ones, and normal day-to-day routines have unsurprisingly taken their toll on many people’s mental health. 

The pandemic’s effects on employment, housing, finances, education, and health have also caused notable psychological stress for many around the world. 

Has COVID-19 Caused Increased Depression?

From February 16th to March 15th the number of antidepressant prescriptions filled in the United States rose by 18.6%. 

A recent study from the Census Bureau found that a third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety and depression. This is a significant rise from data taken before the pandemic. 

Similarly, a recently-conducted University of Michigan survey found that 33.6% of the 450+ respondents reported symptoms of major depression, including fatigue, insomnia, and feelings of hopelessness. 

Luana Marques, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and the president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, said, “I don’t know anyone right now that’s not having depressionlike symptoms. 

“It’s hard to keep going when our brains are constantly in fight or flight. It makes people really tired. If you’re having trouble concentrating or getting out of bed, it’s not abnormal. It’s an evolutionary response to threat.”

What is “Lockdown Fatigue”?

Lockdown fatigue is the phrase coined to explain the feeling of tiredness during this pandemic period, both physically and mentally. Without familiar daily structures, going to work, social activities, and entertainment outside the home, it’s easy to fall into bad habits like oversleeping and overeating. 

Many US citizens have welcomed the reopening of states, not without their restrictions, as for many people lockdown fatigue now outweighs the fear of contracting the virus. Many are itching for life to return back to 'normal' as soon as possible. 

How to Fight the Fatigue

In these strange and unprecedented times, it’s easy to get into a slump. Our everyday lives have significantly changed and job-and-finance-related uncertainty is rife. It’s best to take one day at a time and follow these simple steps to ensure you keep on top form. 

Be Kind to Yourself 

It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to have down days. It’s important to be kind to yourself and recognize that the worries you have are not unfounded. This is a completely new experience for everyone and we are not expected to adapt to pandemic life quickly or with complete ease. 

Whether you’re struggling to stay motivated while working from home, to maintain a healthy diet, or to juggle daily life while homeschooling, try to give yourself a break. Refrain from giving yourself unrealistic expectations and resist putting too much pressure on yourself. 

Drink Plenty of Water 

It may seem simple, but staying hydrated is the fasted way to fight fatigue. Studies have shown that drinking plenty of water has a significant impact on alleviating the symptoms of depression. It also aids concentration and helps with sleep disorders. 

Stay Active 

Another proven and easy way to alleviate feelings of fatigue, anxiety, and depression is by staying active. Find a workout routine that works for you. Whether that’s a socially-distanced jog in a nearby park, a yoga challenge on YouTube, or daily bodyweight workouts on Instagram Live, it’s important to stay active. 

Regular exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood, reduce stress, aid recovery from mental health issues, and prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Adapt Your Routine 

We don’t know when this pandemic is going to end, which means we don’t know when, or even if, our pre-coronavirus routines will resume. Even though the US is reopening, it’s unlikely that things will be completely 'back to normal' for a while.

Instead of feeling lost without your usual structure and comforts, adapt your routine to fit with the times that we are facing and set achievable daily goals. 

Learn Something New

Complaining about too much time is not something that happens often in this fast-paced modern world. Try to change your mindset and view this extra time in a positive light. Why not start that online course you’ve always wanted to do, but have never found the time? Or learn to play an instrument? Or finish those creative projects you’d previously put on the back burner? 

What Does the Future Look Like? 

Experts say that the rates of depression and other psychological disorders are set to continue while the pandemic is still ongoing. 

But, there’s hope. 

Craig Sawchuk, a psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told the Economic Times, “when we look back at natural disasters or wartime when really bad things happened on a grand scale, the majority of people didn’t get stuck [in a state of depression].

They didn’t end up with clinical anxiety or depression. Resilience is our natural trajectory. It doesn’t mean we’re unscathed or that we bounce back to exactly where we were, pre-stressor. But we can get to a better place than we’re at right at the moment.”

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