How to Manage Depression and Anxiety During a Pandemic
Over the past few decades, depression and anxiety rates have risen. During the ongoing global pandemic, stress-induced mental health disorders have further worsened. And no age group is immune.
Anxiety disorders are now the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 18% of the population every year. True, anxiety is very treatable. However, only about 37% of people suffering from anxiety receive treatment.
Similarly, close to 7% of people in the US are suffering from depression at any given time. Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person. Thus, the condition can be difficult to recognize. Depression is especially difficult to identify in older adults because they tend to manifest more subtle symptoms.
To survive and thrive during this pandemic, it’s important to care for your physical and mental health. Keep reading to learn why depression and anxiety are escalating and how to manage depression and anxiety successfully.
Why Pandemics Cause Depression and Anxiety
It’s easy to see how a global pandemic can create stress that leads to depression and anxiety. A dangerous new disease can cause strong emotions and fear of what may happen. In addition, measures like social distancing can create feelings of isolation that lead to mental health conditions.
Certain groups of people are more prone to pandemic-related stress than others. These groups include those who are:
- At higher risk for the virus, such as seniors and those with underlying medical conditions
- Working as caregivers
- Suffering from existing mental health conditions
- Use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco
- Struggling with disabilities
- Living alone
If you or a loved one falls into one of the categories listed above, please take a moment to learn more about depression and anxiety.
What Are the Signs of Depression?
It’s impossible to recognize the signs of depression and anxiety without knowing what they are. To protect yourself and your loved ones, please familiarize yourself with the signs of mental health disorders.
While symptoms of depression can vary wildly from person to person, they often include a combination of the following signs:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as hobbies, or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempts.
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
During an episode of depression, those problems will occur most of the day, nearly every day. They are usually severe enough to interfere with typical day-to-day activities.
What Are the Signs of Anxiety?
Anxiety comes with its own set of mental and physical symptoms. As with depression, the signs of anxiety can vary. However, they often include:
- Persistent worrying or anxiety about a number of areas that are out of proportion to the impact of the events
- Overthinking plans and solutions to all possible worst-case outcomes
- Perceiving situations and events as threatening, even when they aren’t
- Difficulty handling uncertainty
- Indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision
- Inability to set aside or let go of a worry
- Inability to relax, feeling restless, and feeling keyed up or on edge
- Difficulty concentrating, or the feeling that your mind “goes blank”
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle tension or muscle aches
- Trembling, feeling twitchy
- Nervousness or being easily startled
- Nausea, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome
If you suspect that you or a loved one is dealing with anxiety or depression, take action! The symptoms are unlikely to go away on their own, and may actually get worse over time. But don’t lose hope; there is a lot you can do to manage depression and anxiety.
How to Manage Depression and Anxiety
There are many healthy ways to deal with stress that can strengthen you and your community. Take a look at the following tips from the Center for Disease Control and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America to learn how you can manage depression and anxiety during the pandemic.
Care for your mental health. If you’ve begun to notice ongoing signs of depression and anxiety in yourself or someone you love, speak with your primary care physician. Your doctor can recommend treatments like medication or psychotherapy that will help. You may even be able to use online technologies like telehealth to get help without leaving your house.
Don’t isolate. Prioritize creating safe connections with your family, friends, community organizations, and medical professionals.
Engage in creative activities. Use the free time you have during the pandemic to try a new hobby.
Care for your body. Make sure that you’re eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. Exercise can drastically reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even if you haven’t exercised in a while, there are safe exercise routines that you can try at home. To keep your body healthy, avoid the excessive use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
Take media breaks. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly on the news, the radio, or on social media can worsen stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break from those forms of media.
Important Mental Health Resources
If you or a loved one experiences a mental health crisis, don’t hesitate to get help from one of the following resources:
- Disaster Distress Helpline: call or text 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish).
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call 1-800-273-8255 for English or 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or use the online chat Lifeline Crisis Chat.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: dial 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
- The Eldercare Locator: reach them at 1-800-677-1116
- Veteran’s Crisis Line: call 1-800-273-8255, use the Crisis Chat, or send a text to 8388255
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 or use the Online Chat
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357
- Treatment Services Locator
- Interactive Map of Selected Federally Qualified Health Centers
Depression and anxiety can cause incredible struggles in your day-to-day life. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, don’t hesitate to contact a medical professional. Do everything you can to manage depression and anxiety in safe, healthy ways. With the right care and a bit of time, the symptoms of anxiety and depression often lift.
Contact the Davis Community’s Assisted Living and SNF in Wilmington NC
If you or a loved one are in need of help living a safe, active, and independent lifestyle, call the Davis Community today at 910-686-7195 or simply complete and submit our online information request form. We provide exceptional assisted living and skilled nursing services in Wilmington, NC. We offer a strong and supportive environment where your loved one will feel welcomed and part of an active community. Davis Community is pleased to offer customized concierge home care services, including meal preparation and nutritional guidance, to independent seniors living in Landfall, Cambridge Village, Wrightsville Beach, and Porter’s Neck, NC. Get to know the difference today!