We’re sharing informative and helpful insight on how to identify and cope with symptoms of depression that may stem from loneliness and isolation.
Communities, families and individuals worldwide have been affected by the social restrictions set in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Quarantine has also taken a mental toll as many are struggling to cope with loneliness and isolation. Manav Khullar, MD, a psychiatrist with Mercy Medical Group in Sacramento, says it is normal to feel sad or stressed right now because of the many changes we are experiencing in our lives.Symptoms of depression
Dr. Khullar says that certain depression symptoms tend to crop up during isolation because of feeling alone and being left with our own thoughts, with little or no support from others. Symptoms of depression may include: pervasive sadness or irritable mood, feeling a sense of hopelessness or worthlessness, feeling unreasonable guilt or self-blame, or experiencing the feeling of being trapped and that things will never get better.
Certain actions, such as, sleeping too much or being unable to sleep, eating until you are extremely full or experiencing loss of appetite, having lack of motivation and concentration, and crying spells can also be signs of depression. Dr. Khullar reassures us that these feelings are completely normal in uncertain times, but it is important to identify the symptoms and address them properly.
Recognizing the symptoms
Dr. Khullar explains that you can identify these symptoms by being more mindful of your thought patterns and noticing changes in behavior, such as mood, sleep, appetite, concentration, and energy. He added that you can also recognize these symptoms in others around you. If you notice someone is expressing similar behaviors, or you observe negative thought patterns in what they tell you, then that individual could be experiencing depression as well.
If you are experiencing depressive symptoms, you can combat them by incorporating several practices into your daily routine. Suggestions include:
- Create structure in your day – whether it’s waking up at the same time daily, changing clothes and not staying in pajamas all day, making a list of chores to be done, etc.
- Keep your body and mind active. Go on regular walks or jogs, try a new activity like yoga, read books for leisure.
- Assign a designated workspace. If you’re working from home, you can decrease stress by setting boundaries, working normal hours, taking breaks as you would in your office, and disconnecting yourself from work once the workday is over.
- Maintain healthy habits, including keeping a sleep schedule, practicing good hygiene and eating nutritious foods.
- Keep a gratitude journal. It’s easy to let negative thoughts slip in right now, but we can counteract those by taking the time to remind ourselves of what we’re grateful for everyday.
We are all experiencing similar uncertainties and while it can feel as though we’re alone, it’s important to remember we’re navigating this time together.
Dr. Manav Khullar is a psychiatrist with Mercy Medical Group in Sacramento.