How To Survive Social Distancing & Depression During COVID-19 Quarantine

What Is Harder Than Having COVID-19? Social Distancing & Depression.
How can social distancing from the COVID-19 outbreak trigger depression? How can I help prevent feelings of loneliness during social distancing?

 

As coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads, more people across the globe are urged to stay home, keep a safe distance of about six feet from people and avoid gathering in groups.

This “social distancing” is essential to slow the spread of COVID-19.1,2 But beyond the stressors of a changing work, school or childcare situation and events and plans being canceled, being away from others and alone with your thoughts can take a toll on your mental health.Imagine your mental wellbeing as a bucket, and as more stressors get added, the harder it is to maintain or carry.3 We all carry around our own stressors such as working a difficult job, managing health conditions or caring for children. Depression and anxiety can take up a lot of space in that bucket—add the fear of exposure to COVID-19, isolation from others and lack of access to common coping mechanisms like exercising at the gym or doing other meaningful activities, and it can spill over. Finding other ways to cope and connect with others can help lighten your load.

 

How can social distancing from the COVID-19 outbreak trigger depression?

Connecting with other people helps us feel emotionally supported and can play a major role in our happiness levels. So isolation can be dangerous for people’s mental health—especially those who already have depression or anxiety.2 Between the stressors of facing a hiatus from meaningful activities and social engagement; financial strain from being unable to work; and a lack of access to typical coping strategies such as going to the gym or attending religious services, it’s understandable to feel heavy mental impacts such as fear, anxiety, depression or anger during this period.2 Common reactions to quarantine could include anxiety about yourself or your family’s health; frustration over the loss of agency or personal freedom; depression as a result of the disruption from your life; or stigmatized if you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19.2

Studies show that social isolation can not only contribute to mental illness, it can wreak havoc on your physical and cognitive health.4 Some studies suggest social isolation can lead to adverse health consequences ranging from depression, poor sleep quality, cognitive decline and poor cardiovascular function.4 And long-term feelings of loneliness can lead to premature death.4

It isn’t known if a period of a few weeks in isolation leads to such significant physical implications. However, older adults, people with pre-existing mental health conditions and healthcare workers responding to the outbreak may have an increased risk of distress from social distancing, quarantine or isolation.2

 

How can I help prevent feelings of loneliness during social distancing?

An effective way to combat feelings of isolation can be as easy as reaching for your cell phone. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have regular social interactions with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems and live longer.5 Connecting with others can also help reduce harmful levels of stress, which can have a positive effect on your health and immune system.

 

  • 5 ways to stay connected during social distancing
  • 5 ways to help prevent stress surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19

 

 

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