COVID-19 Could Bring a Depression Epidemic: How to Avoid It

COVID-19 could bring a new epidemic in the coming months: depression. Mental health is, therefore, another emergency that we should address by taking appropriate measure.
COVID-19 Could Bring a Depression Epidemic: How to Avoid It
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

COVID-19 could bring another epidemic that, without being fatalistic, we’re already starting to perceive. We’re talking about a depression epidemic. Sadly, in this situation, emotions, uncertainty, exhaustion, lack of control, and even the feeling of emptiness can severely affect people’s mental health.

We’d love to avoid this. In fact, it’d be encouraging to think that, as the “popular psychology” of adversity says, we’ll all come out of this stronger and wiser.

It’s true that this can certainly be the case in some people. Neuroscience tells us that some people are more skilled at managing stress and have a more resilient approach. Thus, they’re better prepared for this situation. However, not everyone is able to deal with change, crisis, loss, or uncertainty in a positive way.

Thus, it isn’t unreasonable to deduce that, when confinement ends and we have to face the post-coronavirus reality, mood disorders may increase. It’s a probability we should prepare for (and try to prevent).

A man looking to the sky.

COVID-19 could bring a depression epidemic

Epidemics don’t discriminate against social classes, nationalities, or religions. The coronavirus is giving us a lesson that we may never forget and reminds us of the fact that we’re more vulnerable than we thought.

Yes, people’s lives before this pandemic weren’t perfect. However, despite all this, we were happier and didn’t really realize it. We were happy because we had a sense of control. The days had their specific routines and purposes and there wasn’t any anxiety about an uncertain tomorrow.

But in this health emergency that’s also affecting economy, it’s inevitable for you to feel the sting of vulnerability.

A few weeks ago, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO, wrote an article in that was published in the article Psychiatric Times. He stated that this pandemic would also lead to other phenomena.

Stress and anxiety

COVID-19 could bring another epidemic of stress and anxiety disorders. In fact, the compulsive buying, panic, and anxiety people are experiencing back up this statement.

Likewise, another article published by clinical psychologists of the University of Washington Center for the Science of Social Connection warned us of something else. It stated that, when contagion reduces and we return to normal, the number of patients with depression will rise.

A woman reflecting.

Why might depression cases increase?

It would be naïve to think that this crisis won’t leave psychological scars. Some people have lost loved ones. Others lost their jobs and fear the future. Likewise, we can’t overlook those who were suffering from, or had just overcome, depression or an anxiety disorder. In these situations, it’s very common for these mental conditions to come back.

The “post-coronavirus” era

Nevertheless, we’ll have to adapt to many situations during the “post-coronavirus era”:

  • A complex emotional barometer. There’ll be a mix of sadness, despair, irritability, and anger.
  • Existential crises.
  • Uncertainty. This word will become even more common than it is nowadays.
  • Economic instability. This is a factor that can lead to psychological problems.
  • Exhaustion, impotence, and the feeling of not being in control over one’s own life and existence.

It’s normal for people to feel this way sometimes. However, if these sensations drag on for weeks or months, depression may come knocking on the door.

At that moment, your ability to solve problems may decrease, and insomnia, lack of motivation, and chronic apathy may manifest.

Ways to avoid this new epidemic

The COVID-19 crisis could bring a depression epidemic. Due to this fact, it’s advisable to take preventive and coping measures. Remember that each person is unique and that this situation will affect them in different ways. However, we know that, in a pandemic scenario, the main trigger of depression is usually environmental stress.

Situations to address

Therefore, we must address the following dimensions:

  • Confinement is going to be a trigger for depression. In these situations, it’s essential to seek professional help.
  • You must learn how to manage stress and your emotions. What you neglect today, may lead to helplessness tomorrow. Thus, be aware of how you’re feeling in the here and now.
  • It’s vital for every city to offer psychological support to every person who loses a loved one to COVID-19.
  • Financial difficulties are going to be another trigger for mental health problems.
  • Last but not least, you must create support networks, as they can help relieve emotional pain. It’s comforting to know that you’re not alone and that we’re all pretty much going through the same thing.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.