Coping with Depression – Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic
Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Depression affects a huge number of adults in the US, and is not the same as an episode of sadness.
This mental health disorder has tripled since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, emotional stress related to pandemic-necessitated lifestyle changes is a major reason. Five or more symptoms are necessary to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of clinical depression (per the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5). While one such symptom is a depressed mood for most of each day, another symptom is a marked loss of interest in usual daily activities. As of 2019 – prior to the Covid-19 pandemic – 11.8 percent of the New Jersey adult population was living with clinical depression.
The following describes other symptoms and risk factors linked to clinical depression, as well as five reasons that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the prevalence of depression across the US (as well as in New Jersey).
Factors Besides Symptoms for Receipt of a Diagnosis of Clinical Depression
Your symptoms must persist for at least a two week period for you to be considered clinically-depressed. Mental health counseling is one of the primary forms of treatment for depression, and sessions with a mental health therapist or counselor are important to long-term “quality-of-life”. Without treatment, clinical depression can lead to withdrawal from loved ones, withdrawal from formerly-enjoyed activities, and lessened support when needed most – which all can result in suicidal thoughts or actions.
Increased Interpersonal and Employment-Related Stress due to Covid-19 Pandemic
One of the societal changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is in the realm of interpersonal and workplace relationships. Face-to-face interactions were significantly reduced during the early phase of the pandemic, resulting in changed communication patterns. An article in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in 2021 noted that the following four key relational mechanisms were particularly impacted: 1) social networks, 2) social support, 3) social interaction, and 4) intimacy. Meanwhile, employment relationships were tremendously impacted as a large percentage of people were required to “work from home” rather than in a workplace with their co-workers.
For parents required to work from home – with children and/or teenagers in the home – increased disagreements and stressful interactions as a result of the increased daily proximity occurred. According to research study findings in 2021 published in Frontiers in Psychology, parents who reported less personal time for themselves and individual family members in tandem with less time for activities previously conducted prior to the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated higher psychological test scores linked to emotional stress – with a cascading emotional stress effect on everyone else in the home.
Meanwhile, “front-line” workers, employees unable to receive their customary paycheck due to job loss/reduction, and those unable to perform work roles due to Covid-19 infection in self or other household members showed evidence of psychological trauma – which is strongly-linked to the development of depression.