COVID-19 has turned daily life upside down for many since its arrival at the beginning of 2020. Millions of people have been laid off or had changes to their employment that led to decreased hours and increased financial stress. Children were required to do remote schooling, which changed family schedules and created child care issues for many. And daily routines, religious activities and social support systems have all been blown to bits. Add to this the length of time these changes have been in place, and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding coronavirus and what it might bring in the future, and it’s no wonder that so many people are finding themselves experiencing new symptoms of anxiety and depression.
It’s normal to have difficulty coping with lots of changes happening at once, and increased demands on your time can cause major stress. While you’ve likely adapted somewhat by this point to the many adjustments required, you may still be experiencing mental health challenges, and you’ve probably heard people talking about “quarantine depression.” In this article, we’ll discuss what quarantine depression is, how it may differ from clinical depression and what you can do to help yourself.
Depression Is a Common Outcome of Quarantine
If you’ve found yourself facing new mental health challenges or dealing with symptoms of depression that you previously had under control, you’re not alone. The Washington Post reports that around one-third of Americans now say that they are experiencing anxiety or depression as a direct result of the quarantining measures put into place around the country.
It’s already known that being isolated increases your risk of mental health issues, and that’s exactly what has happened for many people during quarantine. Nursing homes and care facilities have had to refuse to allow friends and family to visit, which has left residents without connections to the outside world for months on end. Others have been forced to be at home due to remote working changes and stay-at-home orders.
This has left many people at home without face-to-face interaction from coworkers, friends or family who live in another house. Other socialization opportunities and support networks such as churches, gyms and hobby-based groups have also been put on hold.
All of this adds up to an incredible amount of isolation during an already very stressful time. Humans are social creatures, which means they need interaction and relationships with others. And while video conferencing apps and technology have made some parts of quarantine easier, they’re not a substitute for real human interaction.
What Is Quarantine Depression?
Quarantine depression is a term that has been coined during the COVID-19 pandemic to describe depression-like symptoms that have been brought on by the quarantine situation. However, it’s not actually the same thing as medical, or clinical, depression. There’s a difference between experiencing feelings of depression that are understandable in the circumstances and having true clinical depression, which is usually ongoing and still an issue even without any “real” reason why.
However, this doesn’t mean that quarantine depression shouldn’t be taken seriously. Any feelings or symptoms of depression should always be recognized, legitimized and treated, even if that just involves working on managing stress, no matter the circumstances. Also, it’s entirely possible that clinical depression could manifest as a result of the quarantine. If you think that you’re experiencing depression, it’s important to talk to a care provider as soon as possible. Depression is very treatable in most cases, and the sooner you get help, the sooner you can get back to a healthier life.
Some common symptoms of quarantine depression include:
- Feeling fatigued even when you haven’t engaged in physical activity or upon waking
- Sleeping more than usual
- Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Changes in appetite
- Significant weight gain or loss
- Feeling “on edge” or having difficulty dealing with normal life stressors
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Lack of interest in maintaining relationships, even over virtual methods, such as text, email and video calling
Getting Help for Quarantine Depression
Whether you’re experiencing quarantine depression or think you may be dealing with clinical depression, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to seek help. Depression often manifests from isolation, but it creates a self-feeding cycle because those who are depressed often isolate themselves even more. Telling someone you trust about what you’re dealing with and how you’re feeling and asking for help can be a huge first step toward a better life. They can also help you connect with resources and mental health professionals, like those at FHE Health.
However, there are also things you can do on your own that can help you manage symptoms of depression, particularly if it’s a situational depression brought on by the quarantine and being isolated and it hasn’t progressed to clinical depression yet. These include:
- Making time for physical activity. It can be hard to get out and exercise when you’re feeling depressed, but study after study has shown that exercise has positive effects on mental health. The best activity is one that you enjoy, such as dancing or biking, but even just a walk around the block is better than nothing.
- Taking stock of your situation. The quarantine has placed a lot more responsibility on many people’s shoulders as they try to juggle working from home alongside spouses and children, facilitate remote schooling and deal with financial stresses. If this sounds like you, it might be helpful to make a list of everything you’re responsible for and see if anything can be taken off the list or delegated.
- Carving out time for yourself. Self-care is a word often thrown around like it’s an instant bandage for any mental health condition. While self-care isn’t going to cure depression, taking time for yourself and the activities you enjoy can do a lot to help you manage stress. It may be as simple as setting aside an hour a day to read a book for fun or catch up on your favorite TV show.
The bottom line is that while quarantine depression may be different from clinical depression, it’s very common right now and is still serious. If you feel like you’re having difficulty dealing with life during quarantine or think you might be depressed, call us today to talk to a supportive staff member about your options and how we can help.