The coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused a global pandemic, and the disease requires all of us to take precautions to guard against its spread. But what does this mean for each of us in terms of mental health?
At Achieve TMS, we want to help protect our patients and their families from COVID-19, and the negative mental health consequences of this difficult time. As part of our efforts, we can teach our patients and their families about social distancing, and how to manage depression symptoms while staying a safe distance away from others throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
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How Does Social Distancing Impact People Dealing with Depression?
Social distancing involves keeping a minimum of 6 feet of physical space from people to prevent the spread of an infectious disease.
The White House has released guidelines to promote social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, and these guidelines include staying away from social gatherings of 10 or more people, working from home whenever possible, and avoiding discretionary travel.
Social distancing may help reduce and stop the spread of COVID-19. Still, it may also lead people previously diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) and other mental health conditions to isolate themselves from others further.
MDD patients may already be feeling isolated and disconnected from their loved ones due to their existing depression symptoms. However, due to social distancing and the understandable anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, people coping with MDD may be even more prone to isolating themselves emotionally, experiencing overwhelming thoughts of hopelessness and despair, and considering suicide. Without ways to safely and effectively manage depression, their symptoms may get worse throughout the pandemic.
The stress and anxiety associated with the fear of COVID-19 may put additional strain on MDD patients as well. If patients believe they or someone they know is coping with COVID-19, the stress and anxiety may become too overwhelming, and their depression symptoms may escalate accordingly.
How Can MDD Patients Manage the Challenges Associated with Social Distancing?
MDD patients concerned about social distancing should continue their regular treatment plan as scheduled throughout the pandemic. It is critical to care for your mental health by continuing your treatment plan, even as you protect your physical health by practicing social distancing. If you are concerned about leaving your home, many practitioners are now offering telehealth options wherever possible, including Achieve TMS, and many pharmacies are also offering free delivery of prescription medications to your home. If depression leads to recurring thoughts of death or suicide, call 911, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Although we all must be physically distant, that does not mean we need to be emotionally isolated from our friends and family. Now more than ever, MDD patients should devote extra time to connect with family members, friends, and other loved ones via phone or video chat. Check-ins allow patients to stay in touch with loved ones and share their concerns and questions with them. We know that maintaining close personal relationships is critically important for anyone dealing with depression, and the added stress of the global crisis makes social connection and sharing even more essential.
Exercise can play a key role in managing mental health. Mobile apps are available that offer anywhere, anytime fitness classes to help MDD patients enjoy the experience of working out with others without leaving home. Some of these apps are even offering complimentary yoga, yoga for beginners, HIIT, barre, and other workouts.
Trying a new recipe in the kitchen may provide a welcome break from the stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recipes loaded with vegetables and fruits contain lots of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to help boost the immune system. They can also help MDD patients avoid the temptation to eat excessive amounts of junk food that otherwise may contribute to depression symptoms.
Although the news cycle provides regular COVID-19 pandemic updates, it may help to avoid the news for certain periods. Taking a break from the news allows MDD patients to focus on what’s most important: their overall health and wellbeing.
Patients who want to stay away from the latest news can always watch their favorite TV shows and movies instead. Streaming services enable people to access all types of TV shows and movies. Keep in mind that watching a funny TV show or movie may help soothe tension and relieve the body’s stress response, too.
Remember, it is safe to go outside as long as there are at least 6 feet of physical space from others. So, any time MDD patients feel trapped indoors, going outdoors for even a few minutes may help brighten up their day.
MDD patients don’t have to leave home to explore art and history during the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple museums and zoos across the world offer virtual tours, enabling viewers to visit these venues from the comfort of home.
Mindfulness activities like deep breathing and meditation may be beneficial during the pandemic. These activities can help MDD patients temporarily take their mind off the news and feel better about themselves.
A good night’s rest may also help MDD patients cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. By getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night, patients can put themselves in a position to feel their best.
How Is Achieve TMS Helping Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Achieve TMS is the leading provider of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy in the United States, and we want to help patients and their families manage the challenges associated with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. People coping with depression may experience extreme anxiety and stress at this time, and we are here to assist them in any way we can.
All of our centers are still open and provide critical mental health care to patients living with severe depression. We recognize that this may be an even more challenging time than usual for patients with mental health needs, and we are here to support you safely. All of our centers are staying up to date on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and local authorities to ensure the safety of our patients and their families throughout the crisis. Steps we have taken include having no more than three to four people in a clinic at any given time, maintaining physical space between people, sanitizing all equipment between each and every patient, and posting CDC guidelines throughout each office to ensure compliance.
In addition, we provide free TMS therapy consultations, evaluations, and post-treatment follow-up appointments over the phone. Patients looking to begin a TMS treatment plan can begin the insurance approval process remotely over the next few weeks, and then start TMS treatment in-person once the need for social distancing has passed.
For more information about TMS treatment for depression, please contact us online, or call or text us at 877-257-3193.