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Depressed? Lonely? don't let COVID-19 get you down |

Health And Family

Depressed? Lonely? don't let COVID-19 get you down

UNDER YOUR SKIN - Grace Carole Beltran MD - The Philippine Star

When you are depressed, you do not control your thoughts but your thoughts control you.

With the country about to enter unprecedented periods of an epidemic, quarantine, isolation and uncertainty, experts are now bracing for a nationwide spate of mental health setbacks, usually that of loneliness and depression.

As COVID-19 continues its wild spread all over the world, the forecast is that cases of anxiety and depression will spike and the country’s mental healthcare systems may be totally unprepared.

While those with chronic illness may already be familiar with what it’s like to face long periods of time alone at home, most of us are used to getting out daily, even those who are retired or don’t work usually make trips to run errands or visit friends. To have all that stop suddenly is upsetting to some people.

When a person feels lonely, it can cause them to feel depressed. Loneliness is a difficult emotion to feel. People by nature are social creatures. We crave companionship, love and affection to thrive. When we do not have the ability to build and maintain deep and meaningful relationships or are confronted with a situation in which we are separated from our friends and family, it can have a strong negative impact on our ability to cope with day-to-day life stressors. When that happens, it is not uncommon for depression to start creeping in.

If you are isolated because you’ve contracted the virus or suspect you may have contracted the virus, you might also feel stigmatized. Depression and loneliness are a lethal combination and can easily feed into one another, creating dreary circumstances for the affected person. Whether the depression stems from loneliness or loneliness occurs as a result of depression, the combination of the two can cause a great deal of confusion and cloud the mind.

So how does one deal with depression and loneliness during a pandemic?

Set limits on your media consumption. Tuning into media stories that talk about how fast the virus is spreading or how many people are getting sick will increase your anxiety.

Recognize the things you can control and focus on them. It may be as simple as having good hygiene, washing your hands well and bathing every day.

Practice self-care. Eat a balanced diet, get plenty of sleep and engage in leisure activities. They are key to helping you stay as physically and psychologically healthy as possible during stressful times. Good self-care also keeps your immune system robust.

Manage stress. Find ways to relax, like meditation, gentle exercise like tai chi or Qigong, and prayer.

Develop an action plan. Setting a daily schedule can help for those used to routines.

Avoid the herd mentality. Don’t jump on the bandwagon of fake news and false hopes, like quick cures and some disinfecting rituals, unless they are recommended by the WHO and the CDC.

If you know someone with COVID-19 or who has died from it:

Keep yourself updated on the sick person’s progress. Daily check-ins can be done to see how he or she is doing.

Stay connected. If you have a family member in quarantine at home, you have to stay away from that person, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t stay connected through technology.

Allow yourself to feel. Emotions are reactions to stimuli and are biologically there to guide us on how to behave in certain situations.

Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can ease the burden of anxiety and sadness.

Find support among your other family members and friends. Keeping things bottled up can be detrimental to your well-being.

Have self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. It’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling.

If a loved one dies, feelings of guilt are normal. It’s okay to feel like you could have done more; that doesn’t mean that the relationship between you and your loved one was any less real.

Ceremony is important. Many wakes and funerals are being held online, with the help of technology. Grieving without the comfort of a loved one’s hug may be tough, but allow yourself to talk to each other, share stories of the loved one, and, most importantly, mourn together even from afar.

Seek professional help from a licensed mental health professional if necessary. Be proactive about your mental health. It can help to keep both your mind and body stronger.

As the saying goes, we may be bent, but not broken. We may be scarred but not disfigured. We may be sad but not hopeless. We may be tired but not lifeless. We may be afraid but not powerless. We may be angry but not bitter. And we may be depressed, but we are fighting back. With God’s help, we will rise up and surely win.

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For inquiries, call 8401-8411 or SMS 0917-497-6261, 0999-883-4802 or email Follow me on facebook@dragracebeltran.

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