20 Aug A Guide to Dealing With Depression During Covid-19
“It never occurred to me that I was suffering from depression. I’d kept myself busy throughout lockdown; there were daily phone calls from friends and family. But gradually the world seemed to lose its colour – it looked a bit grey, even on a sunny day. Hobbies seemed more trouble than they were worth and I did skip the odd meal; didn’t seem to have much of an appetite. Looking back, I can see that I was missing hugs and company. Without seeing people, life was flat – depressed.”
Jean, shielding alone, March – July 2020
Something very strange has happened to us all over the past few months. We’ve become wary of touching each other, whether it’s a hug, holding hands, a reassuring pat on the shoulder, or a handshake. For those that spent lockdown alone, the impact has been most acute. Francis McGlone, a professor of neuroscience at Liverpool John Moores University, says that living without touch has “has long-term effects on our physical and mental wellbeing”.
What’s Low Grade Depression?
Michelle Obama recently went public about the fact that she was suffering from ‘low grade depression’.
“I’m waking up in the middle of the night because I’m worrying about something or there’s a heaviness”
In her podcast she reassured listeners that it was OK to admit that big events like the pandemic, or political strife, or climate change are getting you down. What’s important, though, is to recognise what’s happening to you and take some simple steps to look after yourself – just like you would if your child was unhappy and needed comforting.
Low grade depression can affect anyone, not just people who were alone during lockdown. The pandemic brought a new set of circumstances into our lives that have to be dealt with. Our work and home routines have been disrupted. We’re uncertain about the future. Many people are losing their jobs. Lots of families are grieving.
Typical symptoms to look out for are: insomnia, low energy, little or no appetite, low self esteem, indecisiveness, anxiety, hopelessness.
How to Manage Low Grade Depression and Anxiety
“You are not your feelings. You just experience them. Anger, sadness, hate, depression, fear. This is the rain you walk in. But you don’t become the rain. You know the rain will pass. You walk on and you remember the soft glow of the sun that will come again.” Matt Haig
Whilst you’re walking through the ‘rain’ of depressive symptoms, there are a number of things you can do to take care of yourself:
- Reach out to someone you can trust – tell them how you’re feeling and trust them to listen to how bad it is for you.
- Do 30 minutes of exercise each day – just half an hour will release endorphins, or ‘happy hormones’ into your body.
- Create a routine – this will save you from having to make decisions throughout the day. Try to get up, eat, and go to bed at the same time each day.
- Talk to Your GP – they may be able to make suggestions other than medication.
- Daily Dose of ‘Touch’ – try to make sure that you get a hug, a stroke, or a shoulder to lay your head on each day. If that’s not possible, try a warm bath – the water pressure is similar to touch, which is why it feels so good.
Seeking Out Help
If you feel that you need some professional help to get you through your depression, there are a number of ways you can access it for free. Here are our suggestions.
Samaritans – 116 123 or email: email@example.com
Confidential helpline. Available 24/7 for everyone. You don’t have to be suicidal to ring Samaritans; there will always be someone who will let you talk and listen attentively to what you say.
Papyrus – Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
For people under 35 who are experiencing depression, anxiety or suicidal feelings.
Campaign Against Living Miserably – 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
CALM run a free, confidential and anonymous helpline as well as a webchat service, offering help, advice and information to men who are struggling or in crisis.
If you are feeling that you want to harm yourself, you should call 999 immediately.
Bedfordshire Supported Housing are an independent provider of social care services who have been operational across Bedfordshire for eight years. For more information about our residential, supported or home care, call 01234 954415