Depression and Lack of Sleep During Social Distancing

In the best of times in the United States, about seven percent of the population lives with major depression.  When you add in a pandemic, lost jobs, and government-mandated isolation, you’ve got a recipe for a much more widespread problem.  In fact, calls to the federal mental health crisis hotline are 900-percent greater than this time last year.

Sleep and depression are linked, because depression can cause sleep problems and lack of sleep can make depression symptoms worse.  If you find yourself slipping into depression, the first thing you should do is to contact a mental health professional.  Many therapists and psychiatrist are now offering tele-health visits with patients, so just because you’re socially isolated doesn’t mean you can’t get help.

Below are a few self-care tips from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Get enough sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same times each day. Stick close to your typical schedule, even if you’re staying at home.
  • Participate in regular physical activity. Regular physical activity and exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve mood. Find an activity that includes movement, such as dance or exercise apps. Get outside in an area that makes it easy to maintain distance from people — as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) or your government — such as a nature trail or your own backyard.
  • Eat healthy. Choose a well-balanced diet. Avoid loading up on junk food and refined sugar. Limit caffeine as it can aggravate stress and anxiety.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol and drugs. If you smoke tobacco or if you vape, you’re already at higher risk of lung disease. Because COVID-19 affects the lungs, your risk increases even more. Using alcohol to try to cope can make matters worse and reduce your coping skills. Avoid taking drugs to cope, unless your doctor prescribed medications for you.
  • Limit screen time. Turn off electronic devices for some time each day, including 30 minutes before bedtime. Make a conscious effort to spend less time in front of a screen — television, tablet, computer and phone.
  • Relax and recharge. Set aside time for yourself. Even a few minutes of quiet time can be refreshing and help to quiet your mind and reduce anxiety. Many people benefit from practices such as deep breathing, tai chi, yoga or meditation. Soak in a bubble bath, listen to music, or read or listen to a book — whatever helps you relax. Select a technique that works for you and practice it regularly.

Read more tips from the Mayo Clinic here.