Pandemic may trigger depression
By Sandra Schiele, Counsel House
Are you or someone you know depressed? Many people are, more so now than ever. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you could be, too. There’s no shame in feeling this way. This pandemic has exacerbated existing depression and caused situational depression to occur. It will likely result in post-traumatic stress disorder in some.
Let’s take a look at the criteria. First, you may experience a depressed mood: sad, irritable, angry; feeling worthless or unappreciated. Next, there may be a diminished interest in the activities you used to once enjoy. This is often accompanied by a change in appetite or weight.
Are you having trouble falling or staying asleep? Are you sleeping more often, sometimes to avoid the pain of being awake? Feeling fatigued, feeling overly guilty/unforgiving of yourself, trouble concentrating, unintentional restless behaviors and feeling sluggish in your physical and cognitive responses are also symptoms that you may be suffering from depression.
Lastly, thoughts of death, which include actively wishing you were deceased, actively harming or attempting to kill yourself and passively wishing life was over.
To many of your loved ones, they may find that you withdraw more, seem moodier, are more likely to cry or express anger, have less of a desire to keep up with day-to-day obligations and perform less personal hygiene. It only takes a few of these characteristics to meet the criteria for some form of depression.
The first step is to identify whether you are depressed. The second step is to remove any negative stigma or shame from admitting this feeling. The conditions that plague us emotionally are no less important or serious as those that plague us physically. When it comes right down to it, it’s all biological.
The third step is to learn and apply healthy coping skills, which I have discussed in prior columns. The fourth step is to make an appointment with your primary care physician to rule out any physical health conditions that may be contributing to or causing your depression. You can also consult with her/him about commencing psychotropic medications that may include an anti-depressant, anti-anxiety or mood stabilizer. Seeking a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner for this type of medication may be required. The fifth step is to make an appointment for outpatient or inpatient psychotherapy. Psychotherapists are continuing to conduct tele-health appointments and see patients in the office.
Until next time, stay safe, stay positive; we will get through this together.
If we can be of assistance to you or a loved one, contact us at 812-738-3277 or via email at [email protected]. You can also access free mental health resources for Hoosiers, endorsed by Gov. Eric Holcomb, at https://bewellindiana.com/.
Editor’s note: Sandra Schiele is a licensed behavioral health specialist who practices at Counsel House in Corydon.