How to Get Rid of COVID-19 Depression
A lot of us have been kept inside our houses for over a month because of the lock-down: a sure invitation for COVID-19 depression. In fact, it has become important in avoiding COVID-19. And for all we know, we’re probably going to be in quarantine for the next few (or several) weeks.
Quarantine can be defined as a restriction on movement on people and isolation from other people. Additionally, it is necessary for people affected by a highly contagious disease to prevent its spread. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not only sick people who are isolated. Even seemingly healthy people have to participate to avoid further contagion.
The first quarantine was…
The concept of a quarantine dates back to the Bubonic Plague around 700 years ago. It was used in Italy (‘quarantino’). Even though scientists did not know about genetic science and viral infections, the medieval people understood enough to arrange the first quarantine in the world.
What are the psychological effects of a quarantine?
Past research clearly shows that compulsory quarantines can have certain effects on an individual, including children. These include:
- pains and aches
- an increased perception of risks
- stress on the cardiovascular system
- different eating habits
- weakened immune system
And the list goes on.
Nonetheless, other studies claim that psychological reactions to diseases of an infectious nature vary from person to person. This is known as subjective perceptions, in which each individual experiences different symptoms depending on his/her exposure.
While this may true, research indicates that those who have experienced pre-COVID-19 depression (or other symptoms) will most likely experience post-COVID-19 depression (etc.) symptoms as well. Although data based on evidence is sure that suicide rates drop during such disasters, we need to be vigilant about serious depression symptoms, including suicidal thoughts.
How do I fight COVID-19 depression?
Here are some ways on how you can stay resilient and fight COVID-19 depression.
Be sure to plan ahead.
This absolutely does not mean you start hoarding supplies. Just buy enough to keep you going and – most importantly – to give you a sense of predictability during these roller-coaster times. Your target should be a supply that can last you for around two weeks without leaving the house. If stores don’t appeal at the moment, try your hand at online shopping. For example, if you’re in Karachi, how about HumMart? Or maybe even Metro? There are even local ration distributors (even though these are usually aimed at the under-privileged). But if it is a question of your mental health, this may also be an option.
Limit your exposure to media.
If you’re someone who seats themselves in front of a news channel all day, you need to cut back. Headlines tend to multiply the hopelessness we’re already feeling. The thought of tearing yourself away from media may be drastic. Therefore, some experts advise a daily catch-up of around 15 minutes in the morning only. Most of the media operates on a fear-based approach which gains more views the more fear it creates. This includes certain myths about COVID-19 that have been debunked. You don’t need that in addition to everything else you are going through.
Try mixing things up a bit
Monotony may lead to boredom, which eventually leads to depression. Instead of sticking to the same routine day in and day out, try something different. Within the vicinity of your house, of course! Maybe you could spend time baking a new recipe. Or finally start yoga exercises which you always wanted to try. Changing your focus can create a stimulus for your body and mind, easing a depressive mood.
Take care of your words.
Instead of falling into a hopeless pessimistic trap. You will tend to stray towards and all-for-nothing mindset. Avoid doing so. Your thoughts may be along the following lines: ‘Things will be horrible forever’ or even ‘This world will never be the same again‘. Use an approach known as semantic restructuring. For these negative words, for instance, the antidote would be: ‘Things are going to get better each day’ and ‘The world may be different but I can handle it’.
Don’t abandon your treatment plan (if any).
If you’re on any treatment at all, it may be tempting to give it up during the COVID-19. But there could not be a worse time to do this. With depression, the most normal of days can be an obstacle. With a pandemic like the coronavirus, things get even rougher. Be sure to indulge in self-care (even a warm bath can be enough sometimes). Take all your medications on time (if you are on any medications at all).
On a final note, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, discuss it thoroughly with your doctor, or a medical professional. These signs should not be ignored; if they are shunned, they can lead to more serious complications.
Take care of yourselves!