Coping with Depression

What are some things that can be done to help ease the effects of depression

Based on separate polling done in March by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Census Bureau, somewhere between a third and half of the American people are showing indications of clinical anxiety or depression. It was in March that the coronavirus responsible for the global pandemic was finally being taken seriously in most parts of the U.S., so, perhaps, this should not be surprising.  

It would seem safe to assume that most mental health professionals would agree that such a frightening and disruptive situation would likely result in feelings of anxiety and depression for many. This is no doubt especially true for those who do not have the financial means to feel secure that they can simply “ride it out”. For anyone forced to choose between staying safely home or having to go out to work in order to feed their family, the stress has to be considerable. 

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But depression didn’t start with this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic: it is a major concern, worldwide. In January of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that more than 264 million people are affected by it. For those already dealing with depression, what is going on in the world is likely to only be making things more difficult. Staying on medication and keeping medical and therapy appointments, even if by Zoom, are more important than ever.

To be diagnosed as depression, symptoms must be more than mood fluctuations or emotional reactions to what is going on around someone. Symptoms of depression are persistent and can span a wide variety of feelings and behaviors, ranging from changes in sleep and eating habits to thoughts of suicide. But, even if what you are feeling is related to the current situation, it is certainly uncomfortable and not something to ignore.

Changes That Can Help Relieve Symptoms of Depression

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Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes that you can make to help reduce the symptoms you may be feeling, whether from diagnosed depression or symptoms of depression related to a temporary situation. Some of those proven to be helpful include:

  • Exercise
  • Adequate sleep, 7 to 8 hours each night
  • Reduce carbs and sugar in diet, add omega 3 fatty acids
  • Reduce or eliminate tobacco, alcohol and recreational drugs
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Other relaxation techniques like a hot bath, massage, tai chi

While the current health crisis, not to mention the seemingly unending state of conflict the world seems to be in, are likely to be affecting us all, it is a particularly difficult time for those already struggling with depression. There has probably never been a more important time to stay in touch with your healthcare adviser. 

Hopelessness, anxiety, and isolation are not a good combination. Left untreated, depression can be a life-threatening condition. More than three quarters of a million people commit suicide every year, and depression is a major contributor in the decision to end one’s life.  Please take symptoms of depression in yourself and those around you seriously. 

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