Am I Depressed? Or Is It COVID-19?

The shelter in place order has many of our worlds turned entirely upside down. Due to restrictions and the sudden and extreme change in our lifestyle, our traditional ways of managing things no longer work, and we did not have any time to adjust. Many are experiencing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that look very close to the criteria of Major Depressive Disorder, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association. You may have caught yourself wondering, “Am I depressed?” and wondering if there is a therapist or psychiatrist near Cherry Hill, NJ. If so, Harmony Bay Wellness can help.

AM I DEPRESSED BECAUSE OF COVID-19?

A sign of major depression is persistently feeling sad. In children and adolescents, this may look like irritability. During COVID-19, many people are having feelings of sadness. A sense of lack of control often causes this, limited incidences of connecting with others, being overwhelmed, and scared. So if you ask yourself, ‘Am I depressed?’ look for these signs.

You may not be interested in activities that used to bring you joy (or really in anything much at all). During COVID-19, many of our activities are inaccessible right now. Activities we may have thought of as just a normal part of our everyday life were important coping skills we used to manage our day-to-day stress. Maybe it was the gym or stopping for produce on the way home. Maybe it was a weekly dinner with friends. We simply can’t engage in these activities anymore due to social restrictions. Secondly, we may feel so defeated that “having fun” or “feeling joy” seem out of reach right now. Staying in pajamas on the couch and watching Netflix may feel like it makes more sense. 

Another sign is significant changes in weight and/or appetite. For children, this can be a failure to achieve expected weight gain. When our routine is disrupted, so are our eating patterns. You might find yourself passing (and picking up) snacks all day long. COVID-19 has made take-out fast food pick-ups feel all the more essential, potentially leading to less healthy food choices. Of course, let’s not forgot our tendency to use “comfort foods” in times of stress. Or perhaps the opposite is true. Maybe you have no appetite at all. It may feel like too great an effort to cook a meal or go to the grocery store.

PHYSICAL SIGNS OF DEPRESSION 

  • Sleeping too much or too little: During COVID-19, worries can certainly keep us up at night. There are so many questions: When is this going to end? Will I financially recover? These questions can lead to racing thoughts, making it hard to turn off our brains. There is also the chance that because of the stay at home order, you aren’t expending the same amount of energy you are used to during the day, so at bedtime, you are simply not tired enough. Conversely, maybe it just makes sense to go to bed early and stay in there as long as you can. What else do you have to do these days?
  • Feeling fidgety or moving more slowly: Again, due to the lack of movement and activity, our bodies may be feeling restless and restricted. It may be trying to physically discharge some of the anxiety with which we are walking around. Maybe we recognize that we are moving at a much slower, less deliberate pace. Getting that glass of water from the kitchen may feel like a chore and take us 10 minutes to get up and get. Without a sense of urgency/time, many of us are experiencing during COVID-19, it can feel like everything can wait.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy: As stated above, many of us are finding ourselves more sedentary during COVID-10. As Sir Isaac Newton taught us, “An object at rest tends to stay at rest.” Getting too much sleep (or not enough), not moving around, not engaging in things that you enjoy, and poor eating habits can all lead to feeling tired.

THE MENTAL SIDE OF DEPRESSION 

Feelings of worthlessness: Due to business closures, most of us can’t engage in our usual self-care routines. It is true that taking care of yourself physically can lead to increased feelings of self-worth, so not being able to may have the opposite effect. But people are feeling like that are not doing “enough” during the quarantine. Theodore Roosevelt wrote that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Social media can be a source of difficulty for many of us. It is all too easy to compare our lives with the glamorized presentation that others put out there.

Resist asking yourself ‘Am I depressed?’ simply because you’re not performing exceptionally during a crisis. This is especially true during COVID-19. You do not need to start training for a marathon, become a master chef, get a side hustle, or build a guest house because you are quarantined. You only have to take it day by day and do the best you can. 

Diminished ability to think or concentrate and indecisiveness: Facing an entirely new reality, as we have had to during COVID-19, can be overwhelming. This has affected all of us. Some of us have had to become teachers overnight, some of us have to learn how to video conference, some of us have to remain in less than ideal living situations for longer than we’d hoped. We may have lost income, need to close our businesses.  This list goes on. None of us know what the new world will look like or when it will be here. Experiencing this (normal) anxiety can consume our brain’s energy, making focusing on other things more difficult. And with the fear this virus is instilling in us, of course, would follow questioning if you are making the right decisions regarding the future or your safety.

AM I DEPRESSED? WAYS TO OVERCOME IT    

Circumstances have led to increased experiences of the symptoms of depression during COVID-19. So, when people ask themselves ‘Am I depressed?’ and feel the answer is ‘yes,’ what can they do? Here are some quick tips for managing them: 

  • Remember that you are not alone. While your situation is unique, this is a universal experience
  • Make efforts to connect with others. Try going to an old school and calling or writing a letter. 
  • Learn something new. Download and language app or teach yourself to crochet. 
  • Create a routine. Establish meal times and try to plan what you will eat. Practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed and waking up the same time every day.
  • Get dressed and put on your shoes, even if you aren’t going anywhere. This may sound silly, but the simple state of being fully dressed can motivate you to engage more actively in your day.
  • Exercise – just 20 minutes daily can make all the difference
  • Limit social media and screen time. Do not base your expectations for yourself on what others are doing. Leave more time in the day for other, more brain healthy, things.
  • Practice the Serenity Prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

HARMONY BAY WELLNESS

If you’re wondering, ‘Am I depressed?’ during this COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to reach out for support. Depression can be chemical (an imbalance in the brain) or situational (the result of life circumstances such as COVID-19). Some feelings, as outlined above, are normal during this unprecedented time). However, if at any time the above thoughts or feelings become overwhelming or unmanageable, please know that there is help available. The professionals at Harmony Bay Wellness are ready. Please call us at [Direct].

 

*NOTE: If you have any thoughts of harming yourself, please reach out right away. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255, call 9-8-8, go to your local crisis center, or you can text “HOME” to 741741.

Nancy MacGregor, MA, ATR-BC, LPC, ACS, Clinical Director