PRINCETON, WV (WVNS) — Millions of Americans suffer from some form of depression. Clinical Depression is diagnosed as a period of two weeks or more with feelings of severe sadness and loss of interest. But does the ongoing pandemic have anything to do with depression symptoms worsening?
Dr. Alina Vrinceanu- Hamm, a Psychiatrist at Southern Highlands Mental Health Center, said there is a direct correlation between COVID-19 and depression symptoms.
“Right now, we’re in the midst of it and right now it’s pretty much the perfect storm because seasonal affective depression is at its peak at this time of year. And then we all have the COVID fatigue. COVID has been around almost a year now and I don’t think any of us expected it to last that long,” said Dr. Hamm.
There are numerous sub-types of depression, but Dr. Hamm said the group she believes is most affected are the elderly.
“It’s very sad actually because we are trying to protect the elderly. But by protecting them, they are very very isolated. And in wintertime they tend to be isolated a lot because they are afraid to drive, they don’t go out that much, so again it’s a combination of things,” said Dr. Hamm.
Suicidal thoughts are also symptoms of depression. These can be worsened by the combination of factors we all deal with everyday.
“It’s a whole spectrum leading to the suicidal thoughts. So first, we try to catch it before it gets to that point and there are certain coping mechanisms people can implement to help themselves. We start by talking about having a routine and sticking to it. A lot of the feelings of demoralization and sadness and depression and anger is because this has been going on for so long and it’s the uncertainty of it all,” said Dr. Hamm.
Dr. Hamm said depression affects individuals differently, but it tends to look like loss of interest, cancelled plans. and dropping grades. She said getting control of depressive symptoms also varies based on the person.
“You have to push yourself early in the morning. You may not feel like it, but if you manage to get out of bed, open all the curtains all the blinds. Whatever little light is out there needs to see you. Then you know go take a shower, change your clothes and it will pay off. It’s one of those things that seems very hard, is very hard to do for somebody that has depression. But if those things are done then the day gets a little easier after that,” said Dr. Hamm.
She said if you are feeling your depression worsen, reach out to someone. She said if you cannot do that, take a walk outside and get some fresh air. She said try not to worry too much about the things we can’t control, that will alleviate a lot of anxiety.