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COVID-19, Stress and Depression

27 August 2020

From news headlines to social media platforms and even our conversations, there’s an influx of Coronavirus-related news. Although staying updated is important, consuming excessive amounts of negative news could increase the risk of mental health conditions such as depression and stress. Sound familiar? Read on.

The new normal comprises being separated from your loved ones, a partial loss of freedom and uncertainty about the future, so feeling anxious or stressed is understandable. However, if you experience these feelings for several days or weeks, it may be time to seek help. Early intervention from a professional could lower your risk of developing a serious condition.

Signs of Stress and Depression

According to research published in The Lancet medical journal, being in situations like these where you are isolated from others for long periods could result in mental health issues such as stress disorders and depression.

Stress and Burnout

If you’re working remotely or are consistently consuming COVID-19 updates, you should take precaution as these activities could result in chronic stress and work-from-home burnout. This may be due to the influx of negative news and not having clear boundaries between your personal and professional life while working from home.

Chronic stress puts a strain on your physical and mental health and, in severe cases, could increase your risk of certain illnesses such as hypertension and insomnia. Over time, chronic stress could result in burnout, which is mental and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress.

Common symptoms include:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive problems
  • Sleep difficulties and restlessness
  • Intense nervousness
  • Feeling helpless
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Depression

Depression is a mental health disorder categorised by persistent feelings of sadness, along with a loss of interest in daily activities, which significantly affect your ability to function in daily life. This usually lasts for several days or weeks.

Common symptoms include:

  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Pains, aches or cramps
  • A decrease in energy, fatigue and feeling sluggish
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping (a change in your routine resulting in oversleeping or early rising)
  • Loss of interest and enjoyment in activities or hobbies
  • Consistent feelings of hopelessness, sadness or emptiness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

When to Get Help

If you experience any symptoms of depression or chronic stress for two weeks or more, or aren’t feeling like your usual self, consider seeking professional help. You may not be able to visit your GP if you’re under lockdown, but you can call them and ask for their advice. They may also be able to refer you to a mental health expert such as a psychologist.

Along with your doctor and a mental health expert, you can help yourself further by reaching out to:

  • Family and friends to let them know how you are feeling. Ask them for support when you need it.
  • Mental health support groups.
  • Reputable online sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization for advice on managing your anxiety and stress.

Good to Know

While you may currently be feeling anxious, it’s important to remind yourself that this situation is temporary.

Healthcare workers and researchers are hard at work searching for a vaccine, so take comfort in the meantime by doing things that provide you with structure, control and safety. These include limiting the amount of COVID-19 news you’re consuming, following hygiene best practices, keeping a safe distance from others and staying connected with your loved ones.

This article is published courtesy of CareWays.

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