Mental health changes have become a common negative side effect of the pandemic.
As the pandemic continues and people remain quarantined and socially distanced from friends and family, it's easy to have feelings of isolation and sadness. And with the added stress from dealing with the loss of work or the death of a family member, mental health changes like depression have become a common side effect of the pandemic.
Depression is a medical illness or mood disorder that can affect how you feel, think and act, according to the American Psychiatric Association. It is characterized by feelings of sadness and loss of interest in things you used to enjoy. Depression can lead to emotional and physical problems and can even affect your ability to live and work productively. About one in six people will experience depression in their lifetime.
If you suspect a loved one or friend is experiencing depression during the pandemic, or because of another factor in their life, watch for these common symptoms:
- Loss of interest in activities
- Weight loss or weight gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping, or sleeping a lot
- Loss of energy or feelings of fatigue
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating, or indecision
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If you have seen these signs in a loved one, and those symptoms have lasted more than two weeks, you may be wondering what you can do to help. It's important to reach out to that person and let them know you want to support them.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a 24/7 resource center that provides dedicated support for people with loved ones experiencing depression. You can talk with a counselor on the phone or chat online. You'll find tips for talking with your loved one about their feelings, crisis signs to watch for if the person is thinking about suicide and ways to improve your listening skills to offer the best possible support for your friend.
Your loved one can also talk with a Lifeline counselor and learn about what they can do to help their depression. Those next steps could include finding a therapist to talk to, building a support network and making a safety plan for if they ever find themselves in a crisis situation.