Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic and Depression
The COVID-19 pandemic causes me to struggle with depression more than I usually do, but I'm trying to cope in healthy ways. If you're also having trouble coping with your depression during this coronavirus outbreak, maybe some of these ideas can help you, too.
How the Covid-19 Virus Is Hurting My Depression
Too Much Isolation
The COVID-19 virus and my depression are working together to increase my feelings of isolation.
I know we need to stay home during this time. I am practicing that and hoping others do the same during this COVID-19 pandemic. It does become a challenge, though, because some people begin to struggle with feeling isolated.
With my depression, I have a tendency to self-isolate anyway, but this is not healthy for me. I become withdrawn and can spiral down into a major depressive episode. For this reason, I am making a conscious effort right now to participate in as much interacting with other people as is possible and safe.
For example, I talk with and spend time with my husband and children in my home. I am participating in online meetings and have even leaped out of my comfort zone to host an online book club. I'm also spending time outdoors. I find being in nature especially soothing and peaceful during this stressful time we're currently facing. The more I can keep myself active, the less time I have to self-isolate, which is especially important right now, since I'm already isolated from others as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Too Many Thoughts
My depression is worsened by COVID-19 because of catastrophizing.
One symptom of depression I deal with is catastrophizing, which is when I think something is or will be much worse than it actually is, or when I imagine the worst-case scenario. As you can probably imagine, this depression symptom has been kicked up a little due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I've coped with catastrophizing during this pandemic in two ways. The first is distraction and the second is creativity. I've distracted myself through music. I've listened to songs from my middle school years, my high school years, and my college years. I've listened to playlists for novels I'm teaching. I've used television, movies, books, my dogs, baking, cleaning, and organizing as distractions. All of these things have helped me cope with my depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I will continue to use them to distract myself as long as it takes.
Tapping into my creative side is also helping me get through this time. I have been painting and sketching. I've been writing poetry and taking photographs. I've also rediscovered my passion for nature study, which is what fueled my sketching and photography ventures over the past week. When I get involved in a book or movie or in a painting or sketch, I want my brain to focus on that one task. I make sure to choose something that I think I can get totally lost in so that my mind is less likely to wander back over to the COVID-19 pandemic. I've found both distraction and creativity to be very effective tools for me to use against catastrophizing.
The COVID-19 virus is worsening my depression because there is just too much in my head.
With this COVID-19 pandemic situation, sometimes I've just had too much in every aspect. There's too much information. I feel confused. The number of cases and fatalities continue to rise. I am heartbroken and feel helpless.
My husband is a nurse at a local hospital. I worry about his health and safety daily. It all gets to be too much for me sometimes, and I feel the panic rising up inside. When this happens, my first step is to practice proper breathing. Once I have my breathing under control, then I practice grounding techniques.
I remind myself of what I learned in therapy. I can only control my actions. I have made a conscious effort not to watch the news. I will check updates on my phone once a day or ask my husband if there's something I absolutely must know. I am also making sure to take time to practice extra self-care during these days.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging to cope with depression, I have found some ways to make it more manageable.
What have you found that's helping you cope with your depression during this COVID-19 pandemic?
Smith, J. (2020, March 26). Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic and Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, March 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2020/3/coping-with-the-covid-19-pandemic-and-depression