Data indicates COVID-19 Depression in Los Angeles and Ventura County has skyrocketed.
Since March 2020, everyone worldwide has been struggling from the major public health crisis known as the COVID-19 pandemic (Ettman, Abdulla, & Cohen, 2020). Everyone has experienced social distancing, isolation, and, for many people, losing a job (Green, Compas, Dickey, &Pegg, 2020). These three components have caused a major spike in psychological distress and mental health issues, particularly in depression and depressive symptoms.
Too much exposure to social media and media can be a significant factorin the large spike of these depressive symptoms. Since the pandemic began, the news and other forms of media have continually reported on the symptoms of COVID-19. This mass reporting of COVID-19 and the reported symptoms of the virus causes news fatigue and depressive symptoms to arise in many people because all that reports seem to be more harmful than positive. Based on the reported symptoms and the fatality numbers continually shown in the media worldwide, it is no wonder that the number of people showing depressive symptoms is increasing.
According to the American Psychological Association, people who have survived COVID-19 and its devastating effects on the brain and body have shown some drastic neurological long-term effects. In a study of 901 COVID-19 patients, they reported several interesting neurological symptoms, including the loss of smell and taste, confusion, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and Guillain-Barre syndrome (a disorder where the immune system attacks the nerves in the body) (Weir, 2020). The damage to the brain in COVID-19 survivors can lead to some severe depressive symptoms. They may not, or will not, be back to “normal” ever again because of the damage and the permanent effects the virus has had on them physically and neurologically.
According to the center for disease control and prevention, in late June 2020, a total of 30.9% of people reported symptoms of depression.
Here are some interesting statistics to be aware of:
- Symptoms of depression increased dramatically from 2019 to 2020. Since the pandemic began in early 2020, the isolation and loss of a job for most people left those experiencing such issues feeling like they lost everything or close to everything, creating a major spike in homelessness, which more than likely contributed to the rise in depression and depressive symptoms. Many individuals and families who lost their homes because of this pandemic subsequently had symptoms of depression arise.
- Symptoms of depression spiked from 8.5% in 2019 to 27.8% in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began (Ettman et al., 2020). The center for disease control and prevention reported that mental health issues, particularly depression, are disproportionately affecting specific populations, including young adults, African Americans and Hispanics, people with a lower income, essential workers, and those with preexisting mental and physical conditions. The two most vulnerable groups are older adults (age 65 and older) and those with preexisting conditions. The risk of getting COVID-19 increases with age, so those at highest risk are older adults. Those with preexisting conditions have a much weaker immune system, making them especially vulnerable to getting any viral infection, including COVID-19. Therefore, older adults and those with preexisting conditions are the top two highest risk groups of all vulnerable groups.
Ways to cope with and relieve symptoms of COVID-19 Depression
There are several ways to help reduce and control the symptoms of depression, especially during these challenging times. An important way to reduce and control depressive symptoms is to limit the amount of news you are viewing and the amount of time you spend on social media (Kamren, Naeim, & Bagvand, 2020). Too much news intake and exposure to the rising and daunting statistics on the pandemic can cause a spike in depressive symptoms, so taking time away from the media gives us time to rest and relax (Kamren et al., 2020). Constantly seeing the rise in the number of people getting infected with COVID-19 and the increase in the amount and type of COVID-19 symptoms can eventually lead to depressive symptoms arising and becoming expressed.
It is also beneficial to regularly talk with and check in with family and friends (Kamren et al., 2020),allowing both you and the other person you are checking in. It still stimulates a sense of connection and lets the other person know that they matter and you care about their mental and emotional well-being, giving the other person a chance to check in on you, which, in turn, would ultimately make you feel valued, as well.
One final way to help manage depressive symptoms would be simple activities, such as stretching, going for a walk, deep breathing, and meditation (Kamren et al., 2020). Self-care is vital for everyone, particularly those struggling with mental health issues on any level. If we are not taking care of ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically, then we will start to deteriorate in the areas we are neglecting—lack of physical activity would lead to decreased physical health, and not having outlets to manage or cope with stressful times would lead to decreased mental and emotional health.
Please know that you are not alone during this public health crisis. If you feel like you need to talk to someone, please contact your local mental health service to schedule an appointment with a counselor about what you are feeling and experiencing. There is no shame in seeking help. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts during this time, either related to depressive symptoms or any other reason, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255. There are countless other resources available for a wide variety of issues that impact mental health in one way or another, including domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and coping with a disaster or traumatic event. The center for disease control and prevention has provided a complete list of all the necessary resources to use if you are experiencing atraumatic event, mental illness, or crisis on its website.
Czeisler, M. E., Lane, R. I., Wiley, J. F., & Christensen, A. (2020, August 13). Mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 Pandemic – United States, JUNE 24–30, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from CDC information
Ettman, C. K., Abdalla, S. M., & Cohen, G. H. (2020). Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in
US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Network, 3(9). doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.19686
Kamren, A., Naeim, M., &Bagvand, S. (2020). Effective recommendations for reducing anxiety and depression caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in medical staff. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 34, 192-193. doi:10.1016/j.apnu.2020.06.003
Kujawa, A., Green, H., Compas, B. E., Dickey, L., &Pegg, S. (2020). Exposure to COVID-19 pandemic stress: Associations with depression and anxiety in emerging adults in the United States. Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 37, 1280-1288. doi:10.1002/da.23109
Weir, K. (2020, November 1). How COVID-19 attacks the brain. Retrieved April 20, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/11/attacks-brain