Depression During Lockdown
It is very easy to become depressed especially during lockdown when you can’t see your family and friends who normally help brighten your life but it is even worse for those who were already suffering from depression before the crisis started.
Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up, for a few days. When you are depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, but the good news is that with the right treatment and support most people with depression make a full recovery.
Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. With mild depression you can have lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, losing interest in things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful.
At the more severe end of the spectrum, you can feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living.
There are also physical symptoms like feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and various aches and pains.
What causes Depression?
Sometimes there is a trigger such as a bereavement, losing your job, or giving birth but you can also become depressed for no obvious reason. People with a family history of depression are more likely to experience it themselves. It is important to seek help from your doctor as soon as possible so you can be on your way to recovery.
Treatment for depression can involve a combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies, and medicine. Your recommended treatment will be based on whether you have mild, moderate, or severe depression.
For mild depression, your GP may suggest seeing whether it improves on its own while you are monitored. If things don’t improve or you have moderate depression talking therapies like CBT may be used.
For severe depression, a combination of talking therapy and antidepressants is often recommended.
Tips for coping with depression
- Stay in touch – socializing can improve your mood
- Be more active – there is evidence that exercise can help lift your mood
- Face your fears – don’t avoid the things you find difficult. Facing up to things like not wanting to talk to people will help to make them easier.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol – it won’t solve your problems and could make you more depressed.
- Eat healthily – some people turn to food when they are depressed which could lead to excess weight gain so avoid sugary snacks.
- Try to stick to a “normal” routine by getting up at your normal time, eating at regular mealtimes and avoid staying up late.
- Practising mindfulness – pay attention to the present moment, yo your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you.
Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves moment by moment. Am important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and sensations they experience. Becoming more aware of the present moment can help you more enjoy the world around you more and understand yourself better.
Mindfulness allows you to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that you experience and to see how you can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful.
This lets you stand back from your thoughts and start to see their patterns. Gradually you can train yourself to notice when your thoughts are taking over and realize that thoughts are simply “mental” events that do not have to control you.
You can practise mindfulness anywhere, but it can be especially helpful if you realise that, for several minutes, you have been trapped in reliving past problems or “pre-living” future worries.