The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world we live in. From social distancing, stay at home orders, and closures of businesses. It has transformed everything we thought we knew about our daily lives and instilled a sense of widespread fear and panic. For so many this has been an overwhelming experience but for those who struggle with depression, the impact has been immense.
The disruption of normalcy from COVID-19 that is leading to loneliness, isolation and a feeling of dread are already symptoms those with depression experience. As a result, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing these symptoms to become exacerbated and at the same time it is introducing new ones.
Without any available outside influences to remind depression sufferers of the good, these individuals may focus solely on the bad news and develop a skewed sense of the situation. They may also develop a growing sense of hopelessness and be paralyzed by their fears, leading them to neglect themselves and their health. For those with severe depression, loneliness and fear can also be triggers for suicidal thoughts.
If you suffer from depression, here are some ways that you can manage your symptoms in the face of uncertainty and further actions you might consider taking during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stick With Your Treatment Plan: Although your daily routine has most likely changed, it is very important for you to continue following your treatment plan. This includes continuing to take your medications as prescribed and make sure you have appropriate refills. Talk to family members or close friends about a plan to stay healthy and ask them to be part of this plan. Monitor yourself for new or worsening depression symptoms as a result of stress or feeling isolated due to COVID-19. Maintain contact with your mental health provider. Many offices have set up appointments through telehealth. This allows clients to interact virtually with their therapists from the comfort of their homes using your cellphone or computer.
Get into a Routine: Depression often keeps you from feeling in control of your life. One tactic to counteract this is to make a schedule and stick to it. By organizing and structuring your day to day, you know what to expect. This will not only help keep you centered, but it will help stay focused on the tasks at hand. One tip is to put making your bed as the first item on your list. You will not only accomplish your first goal of the day but it has been found that people who make their beds regularly report feeling happier and more productive.
Eat Healthy and Exercise: What you eat has a direct correlation with how you think and feel. During this stressful time, it is very important that you watch what you eat. It might be easy to reach for a snack out of boredom but try to eat only when you are hungry. Stay away from processed foods and focus on a diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, with fish and lean meats. Exercise is also important. Not only can it be a welcome distraction but it will also help reduce anxiety and improve your mood. There are plenty of resources available online for at home workouts or you could step out your front door and enjoy the outdoors. All it takes is about 20 minutes a day to help improve your overall well-being.
It is important during this time that you take care of your mental health. Make this your priority and don’t let the current situation consume you. Limit your exposure to the news and practice the tips listed above. If you need professional help, reach out as there is always someone available to assist you. Just remember that this will pass and you are not alone in how you may be feeling.