Post Covid Depression is real. But for the millions who have contracted the infection, no study is needed. Postcovid depressive symptoms might have set in as soon as 2-3 months after being diagnosed with Covid 19; many have never recovered. For them, relentless doom-scrolling and sensational news confirm that the world is dark. But what if there was hope and a medical condition is keeping you and your loved one from living their best life? Read on to learn more.
Depression isn’t just a case of the “blues” that one can “snap out” of. It is a major mood disorder that affects how people feel, think, and behave. When people are depressed, it is easy to ascribe anxiety and depression symptoms to external factors like the state of the economy or the environment. And while these factors may be legitimately anxiety-producing, depression takes these feelings to a level where the individual suffering from the disorder can no longer function on the same level as they were before contracting the illness.
It is believed that post Covid depression may be triggered by the peripheral immune-inflammatory response to the infection. While no two individuals present symptoms of Covid in the same way, the same can be said about Covid Depression.
No two cases of depression are alike. And even those who are smiling on the outside can still be severely depressed. Do any of these symptoms look familiar for you or a loved one?
- A lack of interest in hobbies, social activities or sex
- Difficulty in doing things that used to e easy (such as getting out of bed or getting dressed)
- Increased irritability, frustration and outbursts, even over minor annoyances
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Sleep challenges, including insomnia or oversleeping
- Exhaustion or lack of energy
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
- Mental health medications that were effective before suddenly stop working after a bout of Covid
Is depression and anxiety associated with COVID-19? People who have a history of depression and anxiety are more likely to suffer from moderate or severe post Covid depression. Unfortunately, even if an individual recovers from Covid 19, they may still be experiencing post Covid depression long after and may fixate on things over which they have no control. Many describe post Covid depression as a darkness they cannot escape. This sense of powerlessness and hopelessness may be difficult to overcome without the help of medical professionals and/or professional therapists.
If you’re not sure if what you are feeling is just a bad case of the blues or full-blown post Covid depression, talk about how you’re feeling with a trusted friend or family member. Take time to think about what is making you depressed and ask your support person what they’ve noticed. Oftentimes, our friends and family know before we do that we are depressed and for much longer than we think. It can be difficult for caregivers to know how to support someone with depression and anxiety so you may want to show them this blog beforehand.
Thankfully, there are treatments now for depression and anxiety that can make it easier for you to recover. If you suspect that you have post Covid depression, here are a few steps you can take to reclaim your life again.
- Talk to a doctor or other mental health professional. You do not need a referral to book an appointment with Axis Integrated Mental Health and we accept most major insurances. A temporary course of antidepressants may be very helpful in breaking you out of a negative thought pattern. Or we can provide therapy as well in-office. You can also talk to your primary care physician.
- Eat well and take your vitamins. A growing body of evidence is showing the positive impact that nutritional psychiatry can have on mood and depression. We believe that mental health is more than meds and we’ve seen for ourselves how much proper nutrition can make with our own patients.
- Take a walk outside when possible. The brain is wired to focus on imminent danger in fight or flight situations. The problem is that when we spend all day staring at screens, we don’t trigger the relaxation that occurs when we engage our peripheral vision, which in turn helps our parasympathetic system downregulate. Also, any amount of exercise will generate feel-good endorphins which can help you overcome depression.
- Meditate. The positive impact of meditation cannot be overstated and there are many free resources online to help you get started.
- Sleep. Sleep not only gives your brain time to heal, but it also helps regulate your microbiota, which can have a significant impact on reducing inflammatory responses like anxiety and depression caused by Covid.
The choice to seek treatment for mental health issues is often fraught with stigma and shame. But it doesn’t have to be. Seeking help is one of the bravest acts for anyone who has ever suffered from a mental health condition and know that many of us have also struggled with the decision to seek mental health treatment. We can help you understand your options compassionately, choose the right provider, and we will also help you understand the best options that work with your insurance and circumstances.
As an integrative psychiatry practice, we want to do everything we can to help you recover as quickly as possible and we don’t believe that a single solution is the only solution for complex mental health issues. This is why Axis Integrated Mental Health offers twice the amount of time during our treatment appointments (30 minutes), versus the standard of care (15 minutes). If traditional treatments and medications fail, we also offer drug-free treatments for depression like TMS and alternative treatments like Ketamine and Spravato.
Recently, a lot of attention has been focused on the use of psilocybins in Colorado. While the research is promising, the reality is that there is no way to easily gauge the potency of mushrooms and titrate them for effectiveness. In the same way that every pepper can have varying degrees of spiciness (think Shishitos), the same is true for mushrooms.
We also don’t recommend marijuana to self-medicate for depression. In fact, research has shown that while it can help depression in the right quantities, it can also increase anxiety. You can read more about our thoughts on marijuana on our blog. But we don’t recommend trying to treat complex medical conditions like post Covid depression without evidence-based treatments and professional guidance.
The pandemic has turned life upside down for so many people already, and for Covid survivors, even more so. While there’s a limit to what we can do about the past, we can help shape a brighter future and work to recover from post Covid depression and anxiety. Do not feel like you have to have a major depressive episode in order to schedule an appointment. Treating post Covid Depression when symptoms are mild is far simpler than letting those feelings escalate into something far worse. You do not have to suffer. We are here and ready to help you fully recover from post Covid Depression and you don’t need a referral to book an appointment.