Even during the best of times, anxiety and depression are major problems in the United States. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million people 18 and over, but only about 37% of those get the treatment they need.
Generalized anxiety disorder affects almost 7 million adults, while major depressive disorder affects more than 16 million adults.
That’s all before COVID-19 hit. Now add in a worldwide pandemic, and sickness and stress become even worse. According to one study, three times as many Americans meet the criteria for depression now than before the pandemic started.
What can you do?
At Arlington Family Practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, our team of expert providers is experienced at dealing with depression, and we can help you navigate the overwhelming effects of this condition, even in the midst of COVID.
Why are anxiety and depression worse during COVID?
Pandemic-induced stay-at-home orders and shutdowns have left many of us feeling isolated and lonely. And with so much in our lives uncertain — our health and our jobs, for example — it’s only natural that anxiety and depression would grow.
Maybe your stress has increased because you’ve been laid off (or fear that you might be laid off), and you don’t know how you’ll make it financially.
You might be worried about getting COVID-19 despite all the precautions you’re taking, or maybe you have at-risk family members you’re afraid for.
You might be living in a difficult relationship, and restrictions have only intensified the trouble that comes with being with that person.
Because of all these stressors, you may be turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking, drugs, or overeating, or you may just be sad and lonely and unsure of what to do.
What can you do about it?
You can’t just shake off your depression like a bad mood. At Arlington Family Practice, we’ve found regular therapy to be one of the most effective treatments for depression. Simply talking through your issues and listening to advice from an expert can help.
In many cases, medication can help deal with brain chemistry issues and hormone imbalances that can be a root cause of your anxiety or depression.
In these days of COVID, you might also try a few lifestyle fixes that can help change your focus and leave you feeling more optimistic.
Try breaking the cycle of negative thoughts in your head by focusing on a new purpose. It doesn’t have to be something big. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to cook or play an instrument, for example.
You should also limit your news consumption to the basic facts so you don’t drive fear and endless urgency into your brain. Focus on simple joys like a good song, a walk outside, or a funny video.
One last tip: It can help to practice gratitude daily. Even on the most difficult of days, you can find something to be grateful for — the sunset, a text from a friend, the smile of a child. Here’s a guided meditation to help get you started.
If you feel anxious or depressed and want to talk about it, please contact us at Arlington Family Practice by phone or with our convenient online scheduler. We’d love to help you through this difficult time. Remember: There is hope.