October is Depression Awareness Month. Now more than ever, it is important to take stock of your mood and mental health. In a September 2020 study published in JAMA Network Open, the prevalence of depression symptoms in the US increased more than 3-fold during the COVID-19 pandemic, from 8.5% before COVID-19 to 27.8% during COVID-19. Singles are more likely to experience depression than those in a coupled relationship; women more than men; and those who experienced traumatic events during this time such as economic impacts, job losses, illness, or death of loved ones.
2020 has been a unique year as there have been so many environmental factors that have not only exacerbated anxiety and uncertainty, but have also altered our lives such that activities that used to give use joy and counteract depression have been unavailable. "Our usual ways of connecting socially, exercising, vacationing, and recharging have been altered during the pandemic," notes Stephanie Dean, LPC, CEAP, Assistant Manager, Work/Life Connections-EAP, "Just about everyone has been impacted emotionally by COVID-19 in ways that have negative effects on our mental health. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you may wish to seek professional assistance."
- Mood or feelings of prolonged sadness
- Sleep or appetite problems; fatigue / loss of energy
- Loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities
- Irritability or increased anger
- Cognitive changes (decreased concentration or memory)
- Increased anxiety that influences your ability to function
- Generally feeling poorly/ somatic problems
Depression is a treatable illness that can be brought on by different factors. Evidence-based treatments are available, especially with the recent access through telemedicine. Your physician or a therapist can assess your needs and suggest a course of treatment. If you start to think about suicide, that's a sign to seek help immediately.
Keywords: Depression, Sadness, Suicide, Crisis