The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted nearly a year now. During that time, there have been different rules and restrictions in place to keep people safe. That includes everything from lock-downs to suggestions of social distancing.
Restaurants have been closed. Schools have gone virtual. You may have started to work from home.
Even though there may be a light at the end of the tunnel, the mental health effects of COVID-19 are coming to light. Whether you already struggle with depression or not, the isolation brought on by this pandemic can trigger your symptoms and make you feel worse.
How does the isolation from COVID-19 trigger depression? What can you do about it?
What Are the Consequences of Social Isolation?
There are many negative consequences to social isolation. It’s been studied with senior citizens for years, but the risks are just as high for other age groups, as well.
Some of the most common risks of social isolation include
- Poor sleep quality
- Cognitive decline
- Heart conditions
- Impaired immunity
And, of course, isolation also frequently triggers depression. This problem can become so bad that the U.S. Center for Disease Control has reported that prolonged isolation can also increase someone’s risk of premature death.
Not only does isolation often lead to depression, but it can also lead to feelings of anxiety. Those two conditions combined can form a vicious cycle, making it hard to escape isolation problems.
Why Are Depression and Isolation Linked?
Even if you’re not an overly social person, isolation can trigger depression very quickly. Human beings are social creatures by nature. That doesn’t necessarily mean you loved spending time with people every day before. But, even the idea of having to be isolated can be tough to swallow.
Being isolated doesn’t just mean you can’t “hang out” with friends or family. It can make you feel like you don’t have other outlets to take care of yourself. You might feel like you don’t have a support system in place.
That is especially problematic during this pandemic because so many people are going through similar situations. It’s essential to lean on each other for help and support. And, for many people, doing that in-person is the best option.
Feelings of isolation can also make you feel figuratively alone, making it easy to spiral into negative self-talk. That is another depression trigger and could even cause you to feel hopeless. Even though there is hope for this pandemic to end, you might still struggle with all of the crisis-induced grief.
Because there is still so much uncertainty, that hopelessness can also cause fear. Again, that leads to anxiety, which goes hand-in-hand with depression and can fuel your symptoms even more.
What to Do About Isolation?
The best way to combat isolation is to find as many ways as possible to connect with people. That might seem easier said than done right now. But, thanks to technology, it isn’t impossible.
Connecting virtually isn’t the same as being together in-person. But, it can help you from feeling so alone. Take advantage of everything from Zoom meetings to FaceTime calls with family and friends.
When you do talk to people, allow your conversations to be meaningful. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you’re feeling or what you’re struggling with. You might find that people in your life are going through the same emotions. Being able to talk about it with each other can offer you the support you need.
If you face depression as a result of isolation, seeking professional help can also be beneficial. Feel free to contact us for more information or to set up an appointment. The critical thing to remember is that you are not alone though it may not feel like it right now.