Depression — whether it’s your first episode or your fifth — is incredibly difficult. Characterized by low energy, feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and irritability, changes in sleep patterns, frequent crying, and social isolation, the symptoms of depression are usually hard to hide from other people. Friends and loved ones may express concern, encourage you to see a therapist, and get you up and moving, even when you don’t feel like it. They know that it’s hard to cure depression by lying in bed.
However, in a time of social distancing, depression may be hard for others to pick up on. Your usual support system may be confined to home and unable to come by and see how you are doing. They may be distracted and stressed from the current state of the world. Given all of this, you may be able to hide your depression more easily than usual. Hiding is not your friend, though.
Now is the time to dig down deep and fight your depression, which starts by acknowledging it. First, while you may be isolated, know you are not alone. A lot of people are going to be coping with depressive symptoms from the pandemic and its aftermath. Coronavirus, after all, has affected everyone. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to fight back.
5 Steps to Battle Depression
- Be honest about the state of your depression. If you are deeply depressed and/or having suicidal thoughts, you must reach out to a medical professional and get help immediately. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- Make small goals and celebrate small successes. Your goal may be something that sounds small like taking a shower for the first time in a few days. What we know about depression is that it fools your body and mind into feeling like even small tasks are insurmountable. In making these goals for yourself and keeping them, you are showing your depression that you are the boss of it.
- Don’t wait to do things until you “feel like it.” Depression means that you won’t feel like doing much of anything for a long time. Though it feels counter-intuitive, you will recover from depression faster if you start doing things even though you don’t want to. This means reaching out to a friend through text, walking your dog, or making a rule that you are not allowed to get back in bed before nightfall. A big portion of the battle is showing up for yourself.
- Get a guide to help chart the way. Whether you use a book, an app, or a counselor, you need some structure while you are working your way out of depression. A book or an app can get you started; a counselor can provide you with professional insight, support, and accountability to keep you progressing.
- Take steps to stay connected. Depression thrives in isolation so it is important that you make time for virtual meet-ups with friends and family. Be honest about how you are doing so the people in your life can offer support.
If you are struggling during this quarantine, please reach out to a therapist in your area. Many counselors are offering telemental health sessions now and can help you get the support you need.