The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can have major ramifications for mental health, particularly among those coping with major depressive disorder (MDD). While people living with depression face challenging symptoms even in the best of times, factors such as social distancing and the stress and anxiety caused by the crisis can make daily life extraordinarily difficult. For people dealing with depression and their loved ones , it is important to understand how these factors impact mental health. In doing so, individuals can identify and manage MDD symptoms in themselves and provide support to others.
How Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Affecting Those Dealing with MDD?
MDD causes persistent feelings of loss and sadness that make it difficult to perform everyday activities. The coronavirus pandemic is causing similar issues, as many people are coping with loss at this challenging time.
The type and magnitude of loss have varied widely during the pandemic. Many people around the world are dealing with the loss of freedom since social distancing guidelines have been enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, many people are also losing their jobs due to widespread furloughs and layoffs, and they may experience financial hardships and a loss of purpose caused by an inability to work and buy essential items. Most significantly, COVID-19 is causing a tragic loss of life, with hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide thus far.
Along with loss, the pandemic may also cause people with MDD to experience fears associated with spreading and/or getting infected by the coronavirus. Feeling overly anxious or worried about leaving home may cause MDD patients to forgo medical treatment and/or not get medications to help manage their symptoms — despite the fact that telemedicine and medication delivery options are generally available in most cities and towns nationwide.
MDD patients may feel reluctant to seek support at a time when they need it to help manage increased symptoms. They may completely shut themselves off from social engagement with family members and friends. When this happens, depression symptoms in an MDD patient may become worse, and they may increase the risk of experiencing recurring thoughts of death and/or suicide.
Coping with MDD During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Here’s What You Need to Know
For those coping with MDD during coronavirus, it’s important to stick with a regular treatment plan. Patients have the option to schedule telemedicine sessions with a medical provider and/or get medications delivered home until the pandemic passes. It may also be beneficial to schedule teletherapy sessions to cope with increased stress and anxiety.
If depression symptoms feel like they are becoming too much to handle during the crisis and lead to recurring thoughts of death or suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline has counselors available 24/7, and they can provide support to MDD patients who are struggling to manage their symptoms.
In the event that someone you know is dealing with MDD, it is crucial to understand how to provide support. If you know how to support someone with MDD during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can help them safely and effectively manage their symptoms.
How to Help Someone Coping with MDD During the COVID-19 Pandemic
MDD causes significant emotional and physical symptoms. If you can identify the symptoms of MDD during COVID-19, you can take the initial steps to provide healthy support mechanisms to someone in need.
Emotional symptoms of MDD include anxiety, agitation, stress, and feelings of worthlessness and guilt. MDD can also cause physical symptoms like feeling tired, difficulty concentrating, and weight, sleep, or appetite changes. People dealing with a series of emotional and/or physical symptoms of depression may ultimately receive an MDD diagnosis once they undergo a medical evaluation.
If you notice someone you know displaying symptoms of MDD during the pandemic, you need to be ready to provide the necessary support. Depression symptoms won’t go away on their own, and they may get worse as the pandemic continues. These symptoms may also persist after the crisis ends.
If you understand how to support someone with MDD during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can help them before their symptoms become too overwhelming and lead to serious emotional and/or physical health issues.
What to Do If You Notice MDD Symptoms in Someone You Know
Once you see the signs of MDD in someone you know, speak up. People coping with MDD during the coronavirus pandemic may be unaware of their symptoms, and may rationalize their response as “normal.” By providing them with information and insights, you can help them seek a medical evaluation to determine if they are suffering from MDD in order to receive proper treatment.
Discussing MDD with someone who is struggling can be challenging — and the last thing you want to do is upset them. However, it is important to note that undiagnosed and untreated MDD symptoms may linger for many months and even years. By taking a proactive approach, you can show them that you care about their health and wellbeing, and want to help them in any way you can.
The initial conversation you have with someone who may be dealing with MDD should be straightforward and encouraging. Be honest, and share your concerns about their MDD symptoms. Do not make judgments; instead, use the conversation as an opportunity to express how you feel and how you want to help.
Keep in mind that MDD is a medical condition, and it needs to be treated accordingly. MDD is not a personal flaw or weakness. You can help someone you know find a doctor to perform a medical assessment of their MDD symptoms and agree to attend the initial appointment if they are reluctant to go alone. It might also be supportive to offer to help them schedule the appointment and craft a list of depression concerns and questions for their doctor.
Along with helping someone you know seek medical support, you need to be able to identify the warning signs of suicide in those who may be dealing with MDD, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. These signs may include talking about suicide, experiencing severe mood swings, and giving away personal belongings.
If you believe someone you know may cause harm to themselves or others, call 911 immediately. Remember, it is better to be cautious, and emergency help is still available to those in need.
Finally, it’s important to “be there” to support someone coping with MDD symptoms. If they pursue treatment for MDD, you can be available as a support. If your loved one ignores your suggestion to seek treatment, be patient, and remind them that you care about them and are always willing to listen.
Provide Support to Those Who Are Dealing with MDD During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic is affecting people in many ways, and those who are dealing with MDD may feel alone during this unprecedented time. At Achieve TMS, we are available to assist those who are dealing with MDD and their families, and we provide transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy to help manage depression symptoms.
At this time, we offer HIPAA-compliant telemedicine appointments for those seeking treatment consultations, evaluations, and follow-ups, and daily therapy that follows all CDC guidelines. Insurance companies may experience delays due to the pandemic, so we encourage you to begin the insurance approval process as soon as possible.
To learn more about TMS therapy for depression, please contact us online or call us today at 877-296-4968.