It's been over 5 years since I have battled with depression, thus I recognize that I am overdue for a discussion on the topic, granted the pandemic that we're enduring. I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to discuss some techniques and tools we could use to navigate this forced isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is my effort to assist many who are prone to slipping in and out of depression during this time.
THE IMPACT OF ISOLATION ON YOUR PSYCHE
I think it's important that we understand that isolation is not a natural thing. We aren't born in isolation, we are born with at least one parent or best case scenario we have two present parents, but either way, we have someone who takes care of us for most of our lives; therefore essentially we're not alone. However, when entering into adulthood (or unfortunately for some in their youth) we learn to fend for ourselves and begin to grasp the concept that there are elements and phases of life that we will endure alone.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we've been forced into social isolation. So much so that many of our daily activities, habits, etc. have drastically changed. Because this is a non-preferred change or circumstances imposed upon us, our ability to be negatively impacted (especially emotionally, physically and mentally) has been severely heightened. And In that, many of us are experiencing symptoms of depression that we don't really know are signs of depression. Therefore, I want to first take a moment to share with you some signs of depression that indicate the isolation may be negatively impacting your psyche.
SIGNS/SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
While depression is not solely impacted by social and environmental factors, it is important to note that just as you should be made aware of signs and symptoms of depression, it is just as important to know your family's history with depression as well. Because whether we'd like to admit it or not, depression is too impacted by biological, genetic and psychological (history of mental illness or developmental delay) factors, in addition to social and environmental factors as well.
Please keep in mind as you review this list, that if you are experiencing any number of these symptoms it is my professional recommendation that you seek consult from your PCP (Primary Care Physician) or a Mental Health Professional. Be sure to communicate your thoughts and symptoms.
Symptoms and Signs can be identified as, but not limited to, the following:
Overwhelming sense of sadness, emptiness or loneliness
Overwhelming feelings of worry and/or guilt
Lack of interest in activities
Drastic change in mood (mood swings)
Fatigue (constantly sleeping)
Unwillingness to socialize
Thoughts of suicide
Loss of purpose or sense of self
The COVID-19 pandemic has been, what we in psychology refer to as traumatic.
Trauma is defined as, according to APA (American Psychological Association), "...an emotional response to a terrible event,like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea."
Essentially, COVID-19 is a traumatic incident that has drastically impacted our lives. Therefore we must be mindful of this so that we understand we have to take other measures to ensure that we maintain our mental, emotional and physical health.
I will always discuss the importance of being honest with ourselves, because if we can't be honest with ourselves, we can't identify and confront issues. And, as I like to always say, we can't rectify issues we aren't willing to face.
Combatting depression for me is more than just identifying the signs, it's also choosing to say I don't want to be in this place anymore. It's actively deciding to be proactively positive. It's about recognizing when we need seek help and acting on that.
DISCLAIMER: If you are reading this post for a loved one who you have identified as displaying one or more of these symptoms, please note that I will have to compose an entirely different post to support that need. This post is geared toward individuals who are seeking information to self-help, not be at the aid or support of others. It would be my professional recommendation that you would seek professional assistance to support that individuals immediate needs.