According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one-third of Americans report showing signs of clinical anxiety and depression. Mental health issues are on the rise due to Covid-10. Here are some of the reasons depression is on the rise in our country during the corona virus crisis:
- Fear of contracting the virus
- Physical distancing
- Financial issues
- Loss of connectedness with community
- Grief concerning loss of lives
Anxiety and depression are not only on the rise for adults in our country. Anxiety and depression are both on the rise for our teens and children as well. One in three 13-18 years old suffers from anxiety.
Anxiety in teens can look like:
- Irritability and other changes in behavior
- Trouble sleeping
- Avoiding school or declining grades
- Staying in room alone more or avoiding being around others and joining in regular activities
5. Stomach aches, head aches, fatigue
At a time when we can easily become overwhelmed and believe the world is spinning out of control, it is more important than ever to focus on what we can control and let go of what we can’t. But how can we do this when there is so much bad news???
Here are some tips to ward off anxiety and depression in times of Covid-19:
1. Mindfulness: To keep our fears at a minimum so as not to overwhelm us, it is important to stay present focused. With Corona virus always in front of mind, it is very easy to be future focused, to worry about what will happen in we contract the virus. However, these kind of thoughts are not helpful to us at all. They are not helpful to us in avoiding the virus, focusing on our day, or enjoying the present moment. Therefore, the key to enjoying our time, being productive, and not becoming too anxious or depressed is being present focused. Every time you feel your mind forward-thinking about all of the “what ifs” that could happen if you contract the Corona virus, pull yourself back to the present. Use your senses to help you do this.
2. Focus on what you value, what is most important to you. What do you want to be known for when the Covid-19 threat is over? What do you want to be able to say you accomplished during your time? If you focus on what is most important to you during this time you will be focusing on what you want and what you want to accomplish rather than what you don’t want or what you want to avoid. Focusing on what you do want, what is important to you, will change your attitude and your actions for the better. By focusing on your values, you will spend time taking action toward what you can control. You can not control all of the different variables going on in the world right now due to Covid, but you can control your words and your daily actions. Knowing that you have this control over your words and actions will help you maintain a positive mental attitude which can help ward off anxiety and depression. When we spend our time thinking about all of the things we cannot control versus what we can control, we feel helpless. Feelings of helplessness can lead to us not taking control of what we can control. These feelings of helplessness and lack of action can easily lead us to feel depressed or anxious. So one way to avoid depression and anxiety in times of Covid-19 is to stay in the present, focused on what you value.
3. Find ways to boost connectedness. We humans are social beings. We need each other. Being physically distanced makes it more difficult to find the connection we seek but we can still find it. First, think about what you need the most. Are you missing close connection with your best friends or are you missing connection with your larger community-or are you missing both. The first step in getting your needs met is to be clear on exactly what your needs are, exactly what you are missing. Once you are clear on what you need, what you have been missing, it is time to get creative. Would you rather have a zoom call with your group or meet somewhere outside distanced? We may not be able to enjoy things exactly in the way we used to but that does not mean we can’t still enjoy them. You might not feel comfortable gathering in a theater with your friends to watch a movie but you can set up a movie outside and watch together while you have your favorite dinners delivered to you. You might not want to get on an airplane to visit family for thanksgiving but you can all prepare the same foods and enjoy a zoom call or even play your favorite game together via zoom after your meal. There is no limit to the connectedness we can create if we are willing to put a little time and effort into it.
4. Financial Issues: Some of us are truly hurting financially right now. You might have lost your job, or your business. You might be facing economic uncertainty. If this applies to you, take this time to think about all of your talents and skills that you could apply to other positions. Is there anything you have always wanted to do but have been afraid to try? Now might be the time. Even if there are no jobs exactly like yours available in your area, you have skills that will most likely transfer to other jobs. Spend some time thinking about all of your skills and talents. Chances are you have some that you have been hiding or some you have not used in a while. What other type of jobs are you capable of doing? Don’t sell yourself short. If you have trouble coming up with your own talents and skills, ask those close to you to help. Often others have a better picture of what all we are capable of doing than we do.
If you have not lost your job or your business, but are still worried about your economic future, take action. Give yourself a financial audit and prove to yourself you can handle what comes along. If you don’t have money saved for a rainy day, what can you cut back on now so that you can begin saving?
5. Grief concerning the loss of lives. Allow yourself to feel, without self-judgment, whatever it is you feel. Give yourself time to grieve. Do not put strict constraints on yourself about how your grieving should look. By treating yourself the way you would a friend or a small child, you will get through the grieving process easier than if you insult yourself for having your feelings or tell yourself there is one rigid way you must grieve. Don’t isolate yourself during this time. Of course, give yourself some time and space to feel what you feel. But don’t start pulling away from others and spending more time alone. Isolation can lead to depression. If you find yourself stuck in your grief, reach out for help by a counselor.
If you are not sure whether you are suffering from signs and symptoms of depression, click here to learn more about depression and the depression counseling offered by Empower Counseling in Birmingham, Alabama.
I get it. You’re doing the best you can right now. It seems like the world is plotting against you. While I can’t change the universe’s intentions, I can provide you support as a counselor. I offer services in my Birmingham, AL counseling clinic. Additionally, I offer online counseling in Alabama. I provide depression counseling and anxiety counseling. To help navigate new challenges, I provide counseling for teens and college students. In addition, I offer life transitions counseling and life coaching. To address the unique challenges of the early 20’s, I provide counseling for young adults. As former attorney myself, I understand the pressure felt by professionals. Therefore, I offer counseling specifically designed for professionals. To learn more, click here.