Are you feeling a little blue these days? Not depressed, but maybe just a little sad or down? You are not alone. Even those of us who have weathered – and even thrived – during COVID may be experiencing a mild depression bombarded daily with bad news, the end of Summer and a general sense of loss/lack of control/fallibility/etc. The Mental Health Index says the risk for depression among U.S. workers climbed by 31% from June to July and soared by 102% since February.
So you think it’s only older folk like me who may feel a bit down these days? Wrong. Workers between 20 and 30 have a 101% higher risk of depression and a 132% greater risk of general anxiety disorder than those between the ages of 40 to 59 and a 305% higher risk of depression than those ages 60 and older. In fact, around 25% of young adults have felt a sense of hopelessness recently due to the pandemic.
Overall levels of stress and anxiety remain approximately 14% and 11% above normal, respectively. A recent American Psychological Association study that found 83% of Americans believe the fate of the nation is a significant source of stress, while 78% sited the pandemic as a major stress factor and 71% said police violence toward minorities was a key stress source.
So now that we know we are not alone, what can we do about it? Here are some thoughts:
1. Knowledge is power. Knowing you are not alone feeling some of these feelings should come as a relief. OF COURSE some of us will feel this way! A good reminder that we are human. If these times don’t bother us a bit, then what will?
2. Don’t ever be embarrassed by feelings of depression. It’s normal and there is ZERO shame. ZERO!
3. Seek help. Even if it’s just a conversation with a colleague, friend or family member. There are multiple helplines if you cannot afford private professional help. If your depression feels overwhelming, seek professional help without delay.
4. Don’t wait. Time heals lots, but sometimes depression can snowball.
5. Plan healthy routines and stick to them. Be sure to include PEOPLE in those routines.
6. What makes you feel happy? List these things and include them in your daily/weekly routines. Seek new things that might cheer you up. Stay busy.
7. Identify and evaluate your trigger points so that you can rationalize and manage them more effectively.
8. What you are feeling now should be EXPECTED, not a surprise. We all deal with stress differently, but these are stressful times on any standards.
9. Speak to anyone who has been mildly depressed in the past and they will say that looking back they are glad they experienced what they did to fuel gratitude when the good times returned.
10. VERY few of us are happy and joyful all the time. Being a little down some of the time is healthy and ok.