The current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a very particular and rare situation. It can affect people physically and psychologically. In this context, many people will experience a variety of emotional symptoms such as depression, panic, distress or anxiety attacks. The aim of this short blog is to provide you with tools to minimize the repercussions of these reactions, especially depression, on your life. I strongly believe knowing the cause and effect of reactions in this type of situation and acknowledging them will help each of us to deal with them in the most proper manner.
What Does Depression Mean?
Many of us understand depression to be a brain disease, while some believe it to be a state of sadness. However, depression is also, for most of us, substantially influenced by environmental stress. Unique environmental stressors such as the COVID-19 crisis can substantially affect the likelihood of developing depression. The following are just a few factors that most people observe as stressors and can lead to symptoms of clinical depression:
Self-isolation or social distancing
This universal strategy to decrease the spread of the coronavirus sadly can add another layer to the risk of depression. Not many of our minds or bodies have been designed to handle social distancing for too long. This could highly affect individuals who are living alone. Unfortunately, loneliness breeds depression.
The biggest stressor for many is financial. Unemployment and economic losses will both play a huge role in the development of depression. Many people who experience unemployment, debt and financial deprivation during this pandemic are at significant risk for depression. Not only will employees be affected, but business owners may also be at particular risk for developing depression as a result of financial distress.
Stress, anxiety, loss and grief
Exacerbating the widespread stress of this crisis, many of us are suffering significant personal losses and grief reactions, which are all predictors of depression. Some of us have lost loved ones to this virus, but some get affected negatively by just watching the statistics on the news or social media. For some, especially those on the front lines, acute experiences of grief, trauma and exhaustion will compound the stress and place them at even greater risk for developing depression.
Signs & Symptoms of Depression
Physical symptoms of depression:
- changes in appetite and weight
- sleep problems
- neck tension
- gastrointestinal problems
- rapid heartbeat
Psych emotional symptoms of depression:
- virus-related worries
- feelings of being overwhelmed by events
- feeling useless, hopeless agitation or slowed down
- difficulty in carrying out daily tasks
- crying easily, or feeling like crying but not being able to
- a loss of touch with reality, hearing voices (hallucinations) or having strange ideas (delusions)
- increased use of alcohol, drugs and/or medication
Ways to Deal with Depression
Depression is a very common reaction in the context of a pandemic. Most people have the resources and mental strength to adapt to this type of situation. You should first rely on how you usually adapt to difficult situations, but for those who are having difficulties dealing with this new and rare situation, here are a few other ways to minimize the repercussions of these reactions in your daily life.
Stay informed but don’t overload yourself
Insufficient and/or contradictory information may aggravate your reaction to stressors. While it is important to stay adequately informed, limit the time taken to seek information about COVID-19 and its consequences. Information overload can aggravate your reaction to stress, anxiety and depression.
Take care of yourself
- Be attentive to your feelings, emotions and reactions and allow yourself to voice them to someone you trust. Write them down or express them through physical or other types of activity.
- Make use of physical activity to let the stress out and eliminate tension.
- Practice healthy living habits like proper nutrition and sufficient sleep.
- Limit your access to stressors.
- Trying using Yoga and meditation methods.
- Allow yourself life’s little pleasures such as listening to music, taking a warm bath, reading, etc.
Herbal Remedy for Depression & Immunity[Approved by the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH)]
Considering the importance of immunity-boosting measures in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of AYUSH intends to promote the use of the following ready-made Ayush formulation in the interest of health promotion. It will be effective in reducing anxiety and also boosting the immunity during this difficult time for anyone interested in trying a non-pharmaceutical combination.
The formula consists of:
- Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) Holy Basil dried whole leaf or powder – 2 cups
- Dalchini (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) Cinnamon Bark powder – 1 cups
- Sunthi Rhizome (Zingiber officinale) Dry Ginger powder – 1 cup
- Krishna Marich Fruit (Piper nigrum) Black pepper whole – 1/2 cup
Method of preparation and use
Make a course powder from all the ingredients in dry form. Make sachets or tea bags with 3 grams (equivalent to ¾ teaspoon of powder) to be consumed like tea or a hot drink by dissolving in 150 ml of boiled water, once or twice daily. Gud (jaggery), draksha (raisins) and/or lemon juice can be added while consuming this formulation.
When to Seek Medical Advice for Depression
If you observe the prolongation of any of physical or emotional symptoms, the best advice will be given by health care professionals. Whether you are seeing your family doctor, physiologist or natural medicine practitioner, talking to someone with the ability to help you in a professional manner and someone who you truly trust could definitely be helpful to manage this situation with well care.
Roza Moradi, MD, Honors Specialization in Psychology BA/BSc, Ayurveda Health Educator, Ayurveda Health Practitioner (CAISH Graduate in 2020)
Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH),(April2020), Ayush health promotion product’ for commercial manufacturing by Ayurveda,
Siddha and Unani drug manufacturers- reg.
Chen, N., Zhou, M., Dong, X., Qu, J., Gong, F., Han, Y., Qiu, Y., Wang, J., Liu, Y., Wei, Y., Xia, J., Yu, T., Zhang, X., & Zhang, L. (2020). Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: A descriptive study[J]. The Lancet, 395(10223), 507–513. pii: S0140-6736(20)30211-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30211-7 [Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]