Managing Depression Symptoms That Can Arise During Sickness
Depression is a mood disorder and it is estimated that 1 in every 4 people experience significantly depressed mood at some time in their life. In a time where self-isolating and social distancing are being strongly recommended this can increase the risk of loneliness and in many cases can cause a spike in the number of people experiencing depression symptoms.
Additionally, people with pre-existing mood disorders may find it challenging to cope with the changes and recommendations and may fear their symptoms worsening.
Humans require connection and have become heavily reliant on social connection. During COVID-19 we are now limited to the ways we can connect with others however there are many ways that this can and should still exist in your daily living.
How can I manage depression symptoms during COVID-19?
- Stay informed but limit the time you spend watching the news and using social media
- Limit how much time you spend watching the news as this can impact your mood – understand what your limit is as this will be different for everyone (pick certain times in the day)
- It is important to keep up to date with the changes happening with COVID-19. Using information from trusted organisations like the Government of the UK, and World Health Organisation is recommended.
Managing your negative thinking and rumination
In times when we are seeing increased uncertainty and loss happening around us, including mortality, illness and social losses, we may begin to notice ourselves experiencing more negative thoughts like “I am such a failure, and nobody cares about me” and rumination.
Using the tools below can help you better manage negative thinking.
- Using grounding strategies can help bring back our rational thinking
- Be careful with how you are thinking- identify if you are using any ‘Unhelpful Thinking Styles’, e.g. black and white thinking (“I am not liked by anyone I am completely alone through this pandemic”) and doom and gloom thoughts (“nobody is safe, everyone is going to die”). Being mindful of facts vs opinions will help also.
- Using ‘Thought Challenging Questions’ can help you to develop accurate and more helpful perspectives of your negative thoughts, Trying something like this:
- Write down the thought that is bothering you the most (e.g. “I am not liked by anyone”)
- Rate how much this thought is bothering you from 1-100%: (90%)
- Using your Unhelpful Thinking Styles worksheet, identify if you are engaging with any of these unhelpful thinking styles (e.g. black and white thinking, mindreading)
- Ask yourself and write down the answer to: “what evidence do I have that disconfirms this thought?”, “What would other people say? Would they be more encouraging?”
- Now write down a more accurate perspective of this thought (e.g. “not everyone likes me, but I do have some friends”.)
How to continue with self-care and develop a balanced routine, even during sickness:
- Ensure you eat and exercise well every day.
- Avoid sugary foods and often snacking, as this will crash your mood.
- Attempt to exercise at home, using you-tube exercise videos
- Increased amounts of time at home can be a vulnerable time for people to increase their alcohol intake. Be careful to limit the amount of alcohol intake, as this can impact your mood.
- Developing a balanced daily routine with a variety of activities; achievements (work, household duties), creative (arts, online courses) or fun (watching a movie, playing board games) and contact with others using digital devices where possible will also help.
- Be mindful to try to keep up good sleep hygiene– setting strict wake-up and bedtimes.
How to manage intrusive thoughts or self-harm urges:
Experiencing depression symptoms can sometimes lead to individuals feeling suicidal or self-harming. If this is something that you begin to experience, it is important to know that there is a lot of support out there to help you, including:
- Samaritans – for everyone Call 116 123 Email email@example.com
- Talk to someone you trust – let family or friends know by calling them or video calling them about what’s going on for you. They may be able to offer support and help keep you safe.
- There is no right or wrong way to talk about suicidal feelings – starting the conversation is what’s important.
Daily Mindfulness practice
Paying more attention to the present moment, your thoughts and feelings, and the world around you can improve your mental well-being. Engaging in mindfulness exercise’s not just when you are feeling low in the mood but on a daily practice can help prevent depression symptoms from worsening during COVID-19.
- The Headspace app for mindfulness practice has free and simple resources to use
- You could also try the free online mindfulness courses
When self-isolating and social distancing are recommended, this can increase the feeling of being alone and make us feel depressed or low in mood. Humans require connection, and although this is limited at present, there are many ways that this can and should still exist.
- If you have the urge to withdraw during this time, as this can be a very common behaviour with depression, try to schedule times throughout the day to speak to family and friends using digital methods.
- Try not to rely solely on text communication like WhatsApp, email and texting. Having visual contact using video calls will increase the level of connection felt
- Social media helps to remain connected with people at home and abroad however it is important to limit the amount of social media you engage in as excessive amounts can have a negative impact on your mood. Notice the signs that you have reached your limit and give yourself permission to step away from it and refocus your attention.
Seek Additional Support If You Need It
- Most providers will now be offering support via phone and online.
- Continue with your current treatment remotely or start online therapy with Onebright for immediate access to help.
- You can also use various app-based self-management tools.
How can Onebright support your mental health during COVID-19?
If you are struggling with your mental health and are starting to feel anxious or down, then below is a list of services we have that will be able to support you:
- Online therapy – we can offer one-to-one therapy delivered virtually through Skype, FaceTime or via telephone.
- Self-guided therapy – Access to an online portal that will allow you to work through your problems whenever suits you. Anytime. Anywhere. Our self-guided Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is flexible, allowing you to work through modules privately at your own pace.