For older people, living under lockdown and dealing with the subsequent fears caused by a global pandemic can lead to mental health conditions such as depression.
There are several ways people can try to manage pandemic-related fears, anxieties, and changes to prevent them from causing or worsening depression.
This really helpful article taken from the newsletter Medical News Today discusses depression, how the coronavirus pandemic may affect it, and ways to manage depression using at-home remedies, lifestyle tips, and medical treatments.
Older adults and people with chroinic or severe health conditions may be more impacted than others by the COVID-19 pandemic and its stresses.
Some of the fears and anxieties caused by a situation which is out of our control can become overwhelming. Negative thoughts or feelings that people associate with lockdown include:
- uncertainty about the future
- concern over limited resources
- fear of infection or exposing others
- worry about personal health and that of loved ones
- feeling hopeless about things returning to normal
- feeling helpless or frustrated by loss of control
- fear of crowded places and difficulties social distancing.
Social isolation and loneliness can also cause a decline in mood and cognition.
A 2020 study suggests social disconnectedness in adults aged 57–85 years increases the risk of feeling isolated. This feeling may translate into more depression and anxiety symptoms.
Steps to manage depression
Tips for managing depression at home during lockdown may include the following:
Follow a healthy, daily routine
Following a lockdown routine or existing daily routines may help maintain some sense of time and structure. A routine may also make it easier to go back to a usual routine afterward.
Not following a routine also tends to make people more likely to adopt a lethargic lifestyle. Lethargy can increase negative thinking patterns and reduce self-care, such as personal hygiene and healthy eating patterns.
Stay informed without obsessing
Staying informed with trustworthy news sources may help increase feelings of control and reduce unnecessary anxieties.
Flooding oneself with coronavirus information, especially from unreliable sources, may cause anxiety and distress that can become overwhelming.
It may be helpful to try limiting news or social media intake to once or twice a day, or two 30-minute chunks, and only get information from credible sources.
Help support others
If it’s possible, helping others, especially people who need extra support, such as frontline workers, or getting involved in community opportunities, may help promote feelings of security, self-worth, control, and connectedness.
It may also be beneficial to amplify positive and hopeful stories on COVID-19.
Lockdown restrictions may make it difficult, but it is important to find ways to connect with family, friends, and co-workers.
While people with depression may avoid social interactions, studies show isolation or disconnectedness typically worsens depression.
During conversations with friends and family, it is a good idea to talk honestly and validate pandemic or lockdown-related fears and feelings.
Having strong, open social connections can also increase feelings of security and self-worth.
Practice relaxation techniques
Practices that promote relaxation, such as prayer, meditation, and some types of yoga, may reduce stress and improve feelings of self-worth and connectedness.
It may also be beneficial to start a gratitude journal to focus on positive thoughts.
A person may also try other relaxation or mindfulness techniques to help improve sleep.
Reach out for help
It is vital to reach out for help when negative emotions, thoughts, or physical symptoms interfere with everyday functioning or do not respond to lifestyle changes.
A person can start by talking to their doctor about their struggles and feelings. Doctors may be able to prescribe medications to help.
Many licensed psychologists are also offering secure telephone or virtual therapy appointments during lockdown.
Spending time outdoors may reduce anxiety and stress, improve feelings of well-being and happiness, and improve mood.
Vitamin D supplementation, an abundant nutrient in sunshine, may also reduce depressive symptoms.
Most places do not have strict rules preventing people from being outdoors near their homes if they practice social distancing. But people must always make sure to follow specific health guidelines and advisories.