The coronavirus pandemic has had severe repercussions with its full ramifications still in development. With so much uncertainty, it is important to take stock of what we do know and understand how this disease is already affecting our mental health, particularly its effects on those suffering from depression.
Information is power, particularly in times when it is difficult to rule out evidence-based conclusions from hearsay. For this reason, learning about COVID-19 from reputable studies and sources can help better understand how to protect yourself, your loved ones and manage any stress caused by uncertainty.
Coronavirus (also known as SARS-CoV-2) is the actual virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, though the two are commonly used interchangeably. The coronavirus is an airborne pathogen considered to be extremely contagious.
The coronavirus was first discovered toward the end of 2019 in Wuhan, China and has since spread rapidly throughout the globe. The virus has infected over 40 million individuals and caused over a million deaths.
COVID-19’s three most common symptoms are fever, cough, and fatigue. Other relatively common symptoms include sore throat, joint pain, loss of taste or smell, and nasal congestion.
Many individuals only experience mild symptoms with some not experiencing any. Less common symptoms for this ailment include confusion, disrupted sleeping, anxiety, and depression.
Those with COVID-19 who suffer from severe symptoms may experience shortness of breath, confusion, chest pain, or a high temperature of above 100°Fahrenheit/38°Celsius.
The statistics on COVID-19 are very concerning, though roughly 80% of those infected make a full recovery, 20% require hospitalization and 5% require serious medical care.
The risk for COVID-related complications increases with age, with 80% of COVID-related deaths within the US being adults 65 or older. Adults over 60 are considered an at-risk population.
Those with underlying medical conditions are also at a higher risk for developing COVID-related complications. Such conditions include heart problems, lung problems, and high blood pressure.
Despite common misconceptions, children of all ages can become infected with the coronavirus. However, children only account for 10% of corona infections and their symptoms are usually much less severe than those experienced by adults.
Several precautions have been proven to help protect yourself from contracting COVID-19:
It can take 1-14 days to develop COVID-19 symptoms. For this reason, anyone exposed to someone who has tested positive is instructed to remain in self-isolation for two weeks since their last contact.
Major depressive disorder, also known as MDD, is the official diagnosis given to those struggling with depression. Emotionally, the condition is normally characterized by a general feeling of emptiness, longing, hopelessness, unhappiness, sorrow and a sense of mourning over someone or something that cannot be defined.
Depression can also be defined by detrimental beliefs about the individual’s self-worth, the world around them, as well as insomnia and difficulty concentrating.
MDD is considered a relatively common mental health condition. 7% of the US population reportedly suffer from major depressive disorder. This figure has been reflected by both the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) and by the US Government’s National Institute of Health (NIH).
Depression can severely affect one’s well-being, relationships, and ability to function in different areas of their life. Several treatment options have been acknowledged by the FDA to offer symptom relief from depression including:
The spread of COVID-19 has had incredibly detrimental repercussions to our sense of security, health, economic stability, and freedom of movement. Its effects are reflected in numerous studies such as a meta-analysis from August 2020 which points to a drastic rise in the prevalence of depression. This meta-analysis pooled data from 12 separate studies showing 25% of the general population struggles with MDD during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the above-mentioned 7%. This range shows an significant increase in depression during the coronavirus outbreak which can become a serious burden on individuals’ well-being as well as on national mental health services.
COVID-19 has also caused concern regarding other mental health issues, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety-based disorders. Perhaps more concerning are experts’ warnings that underscore how the continued isolation, experienced uncertainty, and economic hardship caused by COVID-19, which have already induced depression and other mental health issues, could eventually lead to a rise of self-harm and life-threatening actions.
For all these reasons, it is imperative to check on our loved ones and communicate our own difficulties. Online mental health networks aim to offer support during these times.