According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly a third of Americans have reported symptoms of depression since April – coinciding, of course, with the onset of COVID-19. But help is available.
ARE YOU DEPRESSED?
Your spouse says you might be depressed or a little on edge. Your co-worker, during a department meeting via Zoom, told you to “snap out of it.” But if you don’t know what depression is, how can you “snap out of it” without help?
The U.S. National Institutes of Health offers this succinct definition:
“Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.”
HOW TO NOT BE DEPRESSED
If they’re not treated, symptoms of depression can be life-threatening, especially if they lead to physical health problems or even thoughts of suicide. Sadness and worry can pass on their own, but if they don’t, you may need professional help. Here are steps you can take on your own to not be depressed; some may work, others not so much – the point is trying.
Exercising regularly is a great way to tweak your mental health for the better. The Mayo Clinic says exercise is helpful in many ways:
- Raises body temperature and calms the central nervous system.
- Boosts positive moods by releasing chemicals like endorphins.
- Restricts immune system chemicals that contribute to depression.
Dial back on social media
Cut back on your social media time for your own benefit:
- Disable automatic mobile phone notifications of new Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram posts.
- If you see a news item in a feed that interests you, never automatically assume it’s the truth.
- Verify what you’re reading through multiple, respectable sources.
- Avoid engaging in “spirited discussions” with online trolls.
Build a routine
- Put an X through the current date on the calendar when you go to bed. Recognize the passage of time, so it doesn’t seem endless.
- Try and go to bed at the same time every night.
- Eat meals with the family.
- Practice good personal hygiene habits.
Foster strong relationships
Stay connected with friends and family. Organize a virtual game night, or have lunch with a co-worker while practicing social distancing.
Don’t avoid the great outdoors
Physical distancing guidelines recommend staying home and keeping at least 6 feet of distance from other people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go outside near your home. That’s good news, because natural sunlight is known to reduce symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder or just the “blues” from being cooped up so long.
Simplify your daily choices
Little things can reduce stress levels:
- Learn to make faster decisions.
- Cut back on the volume of weekly decisions by preparing the week before. Try meal planning, or deciding which outfits you want to wear in advance.
Do something that makes you happy
Some people are happy with alone time – or at least they were pre-pandemic. Now, we’re all chomping at the bit to get outdoors, go to a restaurant or movie theatre, or just go shopping. We may not be able to do those things, yet, but you can still do things to make yourself happy and fight off depression:
- Try DIY painting, sewing, or building projects.
- Buy a new house plant.
- Try a new cake recipe and add lavish decorations.
- Buy an old fashioned crossword puzzle book.
Take little steps to reduce the stress in your life and, as a result, toss depression into the trash. Avoid over-commitment, practice meditation, be willing to let go of things you can’t control.
Respect where you live
Maybe the pandemic dashed your hopes or plans to move into a new home or relocate to another city for a new job, but that doesn’t mean you should let your current home go to pot. Clutter is a known stressor. Tidy up around your house each week, maintain yard chores, finally commit to that small home improvement goal you’ve had for years but never had time to work on – until now.
Depression, even in the midst of a global pandemic, doesn’t have to be a life sentence and isn’t anything to be ashamed about. It’s a mental health disorder that affects millions, regardless of gender or other socioeconomic factors. If you or a loved one are depressed, get help. Talk to a doctor or contact us today to learn more about treatment options, which may include psychotherapy or innovative new treatments like ketamine infusion therapy.