Four Factors That Impact Depression During COVID-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted our lives over a short period of time. Research has shown that rates of depression in the UK doubled in June 2020, compared to the previous nine months to March (The Guardian, 2020). It is likely that the coronavirus has played a key role in the increases of depression levels. But how might the coronavirus impact depression levels? Here are four factors that may play a role in perpetuating depression symptoms:
Hopelessness & Intolerance To Uncertainty
There is a great deal of uncertainty during these unprecedented times. Constantly changing restrictions have affected how many of our family and friends we can see, which activities we can enjoy, and how we can live our lives.
Some people may struggle to adapt to this uncertainty, and this creates a sense of hopelessness. Feelings of hopelessness might also be perpetuated by the media, as we are constantly presented with new information about how long the coronavirus may stay with us for.
Hopelessness is closely associated with depression. It can cause us to feel demotivated and can infiltrate our thinking patterns, leading us to believe that negative events are more likely to occur in the future than positive events.
Humans are social beings, and feeling connected to others is an integral part of the human experience. This pandemic has disrupted the way we connect with other people, due to social distancing requirements and lockdown restrictions.
Feeling lonely is a normal human emotion, but prolonged periods of loneliness can lead to depression. Some people may use social connection to boost their self-esteem, or as a mechanism to cope with difficult experiences. Without this connection, loneliness can have a negative effect on your self-identity and cause you to feel low and isolated.
Each of us has a self-identity, defined in part by the roles we play in society. Our self-identity is important for having a strong sense of who we are and for maintaining our self-esteem. The pandemic may have required many of us to change roles dramatically and without warning, such as by having to care for a shielding family member or home-schooling our children while working from home.
Role transition can disturb and disrupt our self-identity, and it may be difficult to cope with these changes when they feel incongruent with who we are.
When our role changes, and when it is not our choice, this can cause us to feel that we have lost an important part of ourselves, and create feelings of grief. These experiences can lead to depressive symptoms, such as low self-esteem, irritability and a loss of interest in activities.
Each of these factors can cause us to feel stress and other challenging feelings, and may lead us to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to escape our difficult emotions. Social drinking may end up as a need to drink daily to function, or eating for comfort may become compulsive and difficult to control. Relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms can give temporary relief, but this ultimately exacerbates distressing emotional experiences and can lead to addiction.
Addiction is intricately associated with depressive symptoms, and can contribute to feelings of guilt, low self-esteem and social isolation. Addiction also has negative health consequences that can worsen physical symptoms of depression, such as lack of energy and difficulty concentrating. This can form a vicious cycle that is difficult to break.
Although these experiences may feel overwhelming, we are here to support you.
Our therapists can help you identify areas of your thinking and behaviour that may be limiting you, and help you find healthy coping mechanisms to help you manage difficult emotional experiences.
Our programme, MindHealth, integrates psychological and nutritional support to help you connect with your mind, body and emotions. A combined approach can be beneficial in helping you manage your emotions and feel more balanced. Click here to find out more.
To book a FREE 30 minute session with a therapist, a 15-minute nutrition call with our experienced nutrition team, or to find out more about our MindHealth programme, book a free assessment call with one our Client Support team, who can listen to your story and explain how our services can support you.