Published On: March 15, 2022
Reviewed On: March 15, 2022
Updated On: November 2, 2023
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the globe for a solid two years now, and the toll it’s taken on us isn’t purely in regards to our physical health.
Expert Insight“At the beginning, it was alluring to work from home and complete a project wearing yoga pants and sipping tea, but the inability to socialize and go out created depressive symptoms due to the change in routine and lack of in-person interaction with others.”
In hindsight, it’s no surprise that the pandemic triggered mental health issues. The impact that living through a pandemic has had on our collective mental health is staggering. Whether you’ve tested positive, a friend or family member has caught it, or you’ve lost a loved one to COVID-19 — even if you’re just struggling as a result of the last two years — if you’ve found yourself more stressed, anxious, or a little depressed, hear this: you’re not alone. What’s more, there’s help out there for you.
If there’s one thing a global pandemic has taught us, it’s that we’re better together. Read on to learn how COVID depression may be impacting your mental health and to learn what you can do about it.
Expert Insight“COVID-19 and depression are highly correlated. Some people experience depressive symptoms when diagnosed, others due to having to stay home to protect themselves, and some individuals have to deal with both being sick and at home.”
Whether you were recently diagnosed with COVID-19 or are one of the COVID 19 survivors, the depression you may be experiencing is not uncommon.
First, it’s important to understand that things are not “normal” right now. Everything we’re going through during the pandemic has altered many aspects of our lives, which can be difficult for some people to process. Couple this reality with an actual diagnosis, and the stress and pressure can feel overwhelming at best, devastating at worst.
Expert Insight“The changes involved are causing depression following COVID-19. Some people started to call it the “new normal,” but in reality, it was a set of new behaviors, thoughts, and expectations, and like most changes, it has been difficult to adapt to this change.”
Though more studies need to be done to determine the long-term effects of depression due to COVID-19, some research is showing staggering results. In fact, more than half (52.4%) of people surveyed reported moderate to severe symptoms of major depression, even several months post-recovery.
“It can be described as a side effect of COVID-19, but not everyone experiences it. Those individuals that have never felt depressed or who have the tools to deal with the symptoms of depression are less affected by it.” – Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S, LCSWC, CFTP
There seems to also be a link between the severity of COVID and depression. The same study found that those who suffered more severe symptoms during their bout with COVID are more likely to report depression symptoms after recovering from the virus. Further, COVID survivors seem to be more likely to report other mental health conditions as well, including:
While research continues, there are two ways it’s currently thought that COVID-19 can have an impact on mental health, including issues related to both:
Immune response: Part of what we think we know about COVID-19 infections is that in response to the virus, our immune system produces chemokines and cytokines, along with other inflammation-causing reactions. Higher levels of a specific cytokine — known as T-helper-2 cell-secreted cytokines — appears to be found in those with more severe symptoms and cases of COVID.
High levels of cytokines can result in, among a host of other complications, the following:
Each of the above conditions are directly linked to various mental health conditions, like depression. Additionally, research has also linked elevated systemic immune-inflammation levels to major depressive disorder.
Psychological stress: Multiple psychological factors seem to play a part in depression during COVID. High levels of sleep disturbances, PTSD, anxiety, and depression have been commonly reported during and after COVID infections. These may all be the result of stress-related to:
Even if you haven’t contracted COVID-19, the toll the pandemic has taken on many people’s mental health cannot be denied. We’ve all been impacted on some level. Whether it’s fear for yourself
, or worry for your kids and others, surviving the COVID-19 pandemic is something the majority of people seem to be struggling with.
If you’ve experienced depression due to COVID-19 and related to any of the following, you’re not alone. Any of these can be factors that might be contributing to depression, anxiety, or a host of other mental health conditions.
Expert Insight“As a therapist, I started to see the correlation between depression and COVID-19 in April 2020, when people realized that staying at home was no longer a benefit, but an obligation. The idea of not being able to see their family and friends or even go have dinner at a restaurant created feelings of sadness and, in some cases, severe depression that exacerbated throughout 2020 and 2021.”
Depression during COVID statistics have increased substantially. Some research shows that the prevalence of depressive symptoms increased in every category of participants.
The link between disrupted mental health and the pandemic is clear. This just confirms that research must continue if we’re going to combat further potential mental health consequences of COVID-19.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to reduce depression from COVID-19. If you’re struggling with mental health as a result of the pandemic, try any of the following self-help techniques. Each can be good for both your mental health.
Expert Insight“You are not alone. Thousands of people are dealing with depressive symptoms caused by COVID-19. Look for ways to feel better such as journaling, staying connected to those you love, and talking to a professional who can guide you.”
Times are tough right now, and despite anxiety and stress being a normal reaction to any difficult phase of life, there comes a point when it might be time to get help. There’s no right or wrong way to respond to a crisis like COVID-19. That said, if you’re finding that your COVID depression and COVID anxiety are altering your ability to function normally day in and day out, it’s important that you reach out and ask for help today from a mental health care professional. You don’t need to struggle alone, Talkspace is here for all of your online therapy needs.
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Cynthia Catchings is a trilingual licensed clinical social worker-supervisor, mental health consultant, professor, and trainer for federal law enforcement agencies. Cynthia has over 15 years of experience in the mental health profession. She is passionate about women’s mental health, life transitions, and stress management. Her clinical work, advocacy, and volunteer service have focused on working with domestic violence survivors and conducting mental health research in over 30 countries.