The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and communicate with others. Coronavirus-related restrictions have disrupted our daily lives, and most of us got used to them so masks and online meetings became the new normal.
Although most people managed to adapt to the coronavirus reality, it still took its toll on our emotional well-being.
According to research, people who had COVID-19 are twice as likely to develop mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety, as those who weren’t diagnosed with the coronavirus. Older people with COVID-19 are also more likely to develop dementia.
Post-covid depression is very common. Adapting to the restrictions was a difficult and very stressful experience for many of us, and the lockdown created isolation. The feeling of isolation and loneliness can contribute to the development of depression and worsen its symptoms so there’s no surprise that many people now seek video chat therapy.
In this article, we’re going to consider the connection between the coronavirus and depression in more detail and think of how one can overcome depression to get back on track.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health
The coronavirus has been around for long enough to disrupt all areas of our lives but not long enough to let researchers fully understand its effects. What we do know, however, is that more than 50% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 keep experiencing some disturbing symptoms even two months after the onset when tests no longer detect the virus.
Is depression a symptom of COVID-19? The virus can affect our bodies in different ways, and its symptoms go far beyond respiratory illnesses. Research data shows that the virus can affect the brain, and one-third of COVID-19 patients develop various neurological symptoms.
While fatigue, shortness of breath, chest, and joint pain are the most common long-term symptoms, people who have developed depression during the lockdown may also struggle with it even afterward.
Can covid cause depression? Although depression isn’t a direct symptom of the coronavirus, everyday stress, isolation, and financial problems create a perfect environment for developing depression, and overcoming it can take a lot of time.
Besides, the virus triggers a strong response from the immune system, which starts to produce chemokines, cytokines, and other chemicals that boost inflammation. For instance, researchers found out that COVID-19 is associated with a particularly high concentration of T helper 2 cytokines, which are especially prominent in severe cases.
High levels of these cytokines can cause impaired neural transmission, disruption of blood-brain barriers, nerve inflammation, and immune cell invasion into the central nervous system. The same processes can contribute to the development of various mental health issues, including major depressive disorder.
How to Overcome Depression After Covid
Overcoming depression isn’t an easy task, and it may take a lot of time and work. There are many myths about depression so it can be difficult to understand what you should or should not do. Quite often, the most difficult part is finding motivation and energy to start. However, you may be surprised by how much control you have over your emotions.
Depression makes it very difficult for a person to enjoy their life, and the main reason is that it makes you perceive things differently. When you’re seeing everything through the lens of depression, things look worse than they actually are. Therefore, one of the main challenges is overcoming your own negativity and being kinder to yourself.
The first step is recognizing the fact that your perception of the events in your life might not be objective. You need to change your focus so that you can see things in a more realistic perspective and replace your unhelpful thoughts with thoughts about something that makes you feel good.
1. Distract yourself
When depressed person is isolated, their negative thoughts can become overwhelming. The lockdown left many people alone with their mental health struggles, and an inability to get out and meet with friends and relatives stripped people of their sources of healthy distraction.
To deal with depression after covid, you can create distractions that will not only help you refocus and take a break from your negative thoughts but also add purpose and meaning to your life.
For instance, if you’ve always wanted to learn another language or obtain a new skill, now’s a great opportunity to start learning it.
2. Maintain a healthy routine
Depression can seriously disrupt your daily routine. For instance, you may sleep too little or too much, skip workouts and meals, and neglect self-care. To get back on track, try to add more structure to your daily activities. You can try Herbal Tea from Sahana to induce a soothing and relaxing feeling. It can ease sleep disturbances, regulate appetite, and enhance mood-regulating effects.
Even if you’re working from home and spend most time alone, you can still maintain a healthy routine by structuring your daily activities, exercising, communicating with your friends, cooking, etc.
Now that more and more people are getting vaccinated, it also becomes possible to go outside and try various outdoor activities.
Physical activity is very important not only because it serves as a source of distraction but also because you need to take care of your body.
Research data demonstrates that physical exercise can help treat depression by improving metabolism, restoring hormonal balance, and increasing sleep duration and quality. In contrast, the lack of physical activity has proven to worsen the symptoms of depression.
4. Try relaxation techniques
It’s important to not only distract yourself from negative thoughts but also to give your mind an opportunity to take a break from worries and stress. Meditation and breathing exercises allow you to enjoy a peaceful state of mind and relieve anxiety, which often goes hand in hand with depression.
Another great practice is progressive muscle relaxation. This approach can help cope with various mental health problems, and it is also beneficial for your body. In a word, this technique implies tensing and relaxing all groups of muscles, from toes to the face.
5. Enjoy the good little things in your life
When negative thoughts make you feel exhausted, it’s important to be able to balance them with a bit of positivity. Take care of yourself, clean your room, and cook a tasty meal. Such small activities will help you feel a sense of accomplishment and enjoy the moment.
If you want to overcome post-covid depression, now’s the right time to try new things that you’ve always wanted to try. For instance, you can try painting, dancing, or playing a musical instrument. To make your everyday life more enjoyable, you may also buy some plants or adopt a pet. Besides, you might benefit from using positive affirmations for depression.
6. Change your diet
Depression often leads to overeating and increased consumption of “comfort foods,” which are packed with sugar, refined carbs, and fats. Besides, many people try to deal with depression by consuming too much alcohol or caffeine.
While these things may seem to provide some relief in the short term, they come at a price of your physical and mental well-being in the long term. To improve your mood, try to eat more fruits, vegetables, and make sure that your brain gets enough vitamins and other nutrients.
7. Seek professional help
Many people don’t know what to say to someone who is depressed, and if you experience depression, you may also feel lost trying to figure out what happens to you and what you should do.
A licensed therapist can help you understand the reasons behind your depression and provide the necessary emotional support. Talk therapy has proven to be effective in treating depression, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are also many other treatments available like TMS or IV ketamine infusions.
While in-person therapy may not be a convenient option for people with tight work schedules and during the lockdown, online therapy platforms like Calmerry allow you to get help from virtually anywhere, with no need to commute to the therapist’s office. You can also learn more about the benefits of therapy that you may not know.
If you experience severe depression and consider self-harm, please immediately contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives and taken many things that used to bring us joy. After the isolation of the lockdown, many people were left alone with their mental health struggles. Post-covid depression is a real thing, and overcoming it can take a lot of time and effort.
We hope that our tips will help you deal with depression after covid. Although depression can easily make you feel hopeless, the main thing is to get started. Distract yourself from your negative thoughts and fill your day with activities that make you feel good and give you a sense of purpose. Be kind to yourself!
Perhaps, the most important thing you should know about depression is that you don’t have to deal with it alone. Therapy can help you understand the causes of your depression and challenge your negative thoughts. Depression can be treated, and you can get back to a more fulfilling life. So don’t hesitate to ask for help.
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