Living under lockdown can cause negative emotions and force lifestyle changes that may be difficult to handle. This might be especially true for those experiencing mental health conditions, such as depression.
There are several ways people can try to manage pandemic-related fears, anxieties, and changes to prevent them from causing or worsening depression.
This article discusses depression, how the coronavirus pandemic may affect it, and ways to manage depression using at-home remedies, lifestyle tips, and medical treatments.
Living under lockdown can increase the risk of depression or worsen someone’s symptoms.
According to a Chinese study, almost 35% of respondents reported psychological issues due to the pandemic.
Certain people may be more impacted than others by the COVID-19 pandemic and its stresses.
Those more susceptible include:
- older adults
- people with chronic or severe health conditions
- children and teens
- frontline workers, including health care and essential service workers and first responders
- people with mental health conditions, including substance use problems
A global pandemic may cause fears and anxieties that can become overwhelming. Negative thoughts or feelings that people associate with lockdown include:
- uncertainty about the future
- concern over limited resources
- fear of SARS-CoV-2 infection or exposing others
- worry about personal health and that of loved ones
- feeling hopeless about things returning to normal
- feeling helpless or frustrated by loss of control
- fear of crowded places and difficulties social distancing
Social isolation and loneliness can also cause a decline in mood and cognition.
A 2020 study suggests social disconnectedness in adults aged 57–85 years increases the risk of feeling isolated. This feeling may translate into more depression and anxiety symptoms.
Tips for managing depression at home during lockdown may include the following:
Follow a healthful daily routine
Following a lockdown routine or existing daily routines may help maintain some sense of time and structure. A routine may also make it easier to transition back to a usual routine afterward.
Not following a routine also tends to make people more likely to adopt a lethargic lifestyle. Lethargy can increase negative thinking patterns and reduce self-care, such as personal hygiene and healthful eating patterns.
Stay informed without obsessing
Staying informed with trustworthy news sources may help increase feelings of control and reduce unnecessary anxieties.
Flooding oneself with coronavirus information, especially from unreliable sources, may cause anxiety and distress that can become overwhelming.
It may be helpful to try limiting news or social media intake to once or twice a day, or two 30-minute chunks, and only get information from credible sources.
Help support others
Helping others, especially people who need extra support, such as frontline workers, or getting involved in community opportunities, may help promote feelings of security, self-worth, control, and connectedness.
It may also be beneficial to amplify positive and hopeful stories on COVID-19.
Lockdown restrictions may make it difficult, but it is important to find ways to connect with family, friends, and co-workers.
While people with depression may avoid social interactions, studies show isolation or disconnectedness typically worsens depression.
During conversations with friends and family, it is a good idea to talk honestly and validate pandemic or lockdown-related fears and feelings.
Having strong, open social connections can also increase feelings of security and self-worth.
Practice relaxation techniques
Practices that promote relaxation, such as prayer, meditation, and some types of yoga, may reduce stress and improve feelings of self-worth and connectedness.
It may also be beneficial to start a gratitude journal to focus on positive thoughts.
A person may also try other relaxation or mindfulness techniques to help improve sleep.
Reach out for help
It is vital to reach out for help when negative emotions, thoughts, or physical symptoms interfere with everyday functioning or do not respond to lifestyle changes.
A person can start by talking to their doctor about their struggles and feelings. Doctors may be able to prescribe medications to help.
Spending time outdoors may reduce anxiety and stress, improve feelings of well-being and happiness, and improve mood.
Vitamin D supplementation, an abundant nutrient in sunshine, may also reduce depressive symptoms.
Most places do not have strict rules preventing people from being outdoors near their homes if they practice social distancing. But people must always make sure to follow specific health guidelines and advisories.
Depression is a common but serious mood disorder characterized by negative feelings, such as sadness, guilt, loneliness, and anger. The condition also has physical symptoms that interfere with everyday functioning and last for at least 2 weeks.
Most people with depression require treatment to avoid serious health complications. Depression resulted in 47,173 suicide deaths in the United States in 2017, which translates to 14.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
- If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Call 911 or the local emergency number.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.
Anyone of any age, gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic class can experience depression. By some estimates, about 7% of the U.S. adult population has had at least one depressive episode in the last 12 months.
- feeling sad, anxious, irritable, frustrated, guilty, worthless, or helpless
- changes in sleep patterns and appetite
- lack of interest or enjoyment in everyday life
- having no interest in things a person is usually passionate about
- loss of concentration and focus
- memory problems
- trouble making decisions
- suicidal thoughts
Living under lockdown conditions can cause fear, anxiety, and uncertainty that left unchecked can increase someone’s risk of depression.
A person can try using at-home solutions that focus on following a routine, practicing good self-care, and adapting to lifestyle or work changes to reduce negative feelings and thoughts.
If symptoms become overwhelming or disabling, they can contact a medical professional for help and to avoid serious complications.