Depression and COVID-19 – How to Deal with the Blues When Everything Feels Overwhelming

Health Conditions

Depression and COVID-19 – How to Deal with the Blues When Everything Feels Overwhelming

COVID-19.Mental Health.Clinical Depression
Stacy Mosel, LMSW
By Stacy Mosel, LMSW
May 25, 2020
Depression and COVID-19 – How to Deal with the Blues When Everything Feels Overwhelming

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that fear and anxiety due to the pandemic can create strong emotions and may worsen pre-existing mental health conditions In a recent survey by RxSaver and Kelton Research, nearly half of the respondents said the pandemic negatively impacted their mental health.  So, if you are feeling depressed or anxious, know that you’re not alone. Luckily, there are some things you can do to stay as mentally healthy as possible and take good care of yourself during these stressful times.

Avoid Information Overload During COVID-19

Staying informed may seem like a good way to cope and prevent uncertainty. But, too much information (especially if it comes from biased or unreliable sources) can cause information overload and increase feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety.  It’s a good idea to know what’s going on, but you should not be glued to your smartphone, computer, or television 24/7. Take breaks and try to limit the amount of time you spend reading the news — if possible, tell yourself you’ll only check the headlines a maximum of three times a day.

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Practice Mindful Acceptance

For many people, the most difficult aspects of the pandemic are the lack of control and the incredible amount of uncertainty. Practicing mindfulness is a beneficial way to stay centered and accept things as they are; it is a helpful way to manage depression because it allows you to step back from brooding or rumination, which only makes depression worse.

Mindfulness encourages you to live in the present moment, without the need to change anything. You simply guide your attention back to your “now” by paying attention to your bodily sensations, breath, and what is happening in the immediate moment. You don’t necessarily need to meditate to be mindful, you can just be more aware of your moment-to-moment experience. However, if you want to experience the benefits of formal mindfulness meditation practices, you can search YouTube for guided meditations or read books by mindfulness experts like Jon Kabat-Zinn or Tara Brach.

Learn to stay physically active during shelter in place

It can be tempting to lay around on the couch all day, but that will not help you feel any better. It’s important to avoid falling into a routine of not doing anything in order to prevent depressive symptoms from worsening. Exercise is a great way to keep active, improve your overall fitness level, and reduce symptoms of depression. Even if you can’t go outside, you can still exercise at home with online workouts; keep in mind that other activities count as exercise too, such as gardening or walking the dog. To improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, experts advise at least 30 minutes of exercise three to five days per week.

Create A Routine

During challenging and chaotic times, having a routine to fall back on can be a helpful coping mechanism for people with depression (and for everyone else, too). Generally speaking, people with depression benefit from having a routine; missing your usual structure due to the pandemic may make you feel even more out of sorts and blue. Make a schedule for yourself that includes a combination of activities you like to do and things you have to do (such as meditating, exercising, cleaning, or work-related activities). Since depression symptoms are often worse in the morning, a morning routine might be particularly beneficial because it can help get you going and give you a feeling of accomplishment early on in the day.

Set goals for yourself during isolation

People are goal-oriented creatures — we need goals to work on to feel a sense of productivity and purpose. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t an excuse to stop working on yourself; in fact, it may be even more important to set goals now as a way to help you block out negativity and give yourself a feeling of achievement. It doesn’t matter how small the goal might seem, because even getting out of bed in the morning and taking a shower can be an important accomplishment when you feel depressed.

Write down your goals and set realistic time limits; to start, you might want to try setting some daily, weekly, and monthly goals that can be easily achieved. For example, you could set goals to cook yourself a nutritious meal every evening, read one book a week, and start learning a new hobby by the end of the month.

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Stay Socially Connected

Avoiding social interaction is one of the hallmarks of depression, but this only makes depression worse. With the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing, socialization can indeed be even more challenging. Many people report feeling socially isolated, which only contributes to feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. While technology like Skype or Zoom doesn’t yet offer a way to replicate the beneficial effects of physical touch and in-person interaction, it’s a good (and in many cases, the only) substitute to help you stay connected. You can join online forums and activities, such as taking a class, book group, or even enjoy a meal with loved ones using conferencing and video apps.

Free Mental Health Resources Available

If you feel like you cannot handle things on your own or that you cannot function in your day to day life because of your depressive symptoms, you should consult your physician or a licensed mental health professional. If you feel like you are in danger of self-harm, then call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away. You can also reach out to mental health helplines for information, referrals, and a compassionate ear. You can access the Crisis Text Line in the United States or Canada 24/7 by texting 741741, or if you prefer to talk to someone, you can also call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), between 10 AM and 6 PM ET.

Stacy Mosel, LMSW

Stacy Mosel, LMSW

Stacy Mosel, LMSW, is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, and substance abuse specialist. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, she continued her studies at New York University, earning a Master of Social Work in 2002. She has extensive training in child and family therapy and in the identification and treatment of substance abuse and mental health disorders.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.