Depression and the new normal: How Covid-19 has impacted on mental health

Following four months of unprecedented times, the UK and the world is starting to relax the strict social distancing regimes forced upon it by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One area of concern is the impact of the illness on mental health. More and more restrictions affected activities, routines and livelihoods, which caused levels of depression to soar.

According to the Office of National Statistics, more than two-thirds of adults in the UK (69%) reported feeling worried about the effect COVID-19 is having on their life. The most common impacts to date are regarding the future (63%), heightened feelings of stress or anxiety (56%) and feeling bored (49%).

A UCL COVID-19 social study of 90,000 UK adults monitored mental health symptoms throughout lockdown and found that levels of depression and anxiety fell last month when restrictions started to be lifted.

Here we look at the major issues affecting those with depression:

Health

With people forced to wear face masks in supermarkets and on public transport, those with mental health issues can start to feel anxious about becoming ill themselves.

As different at risk and shielding groups are told to get back to their usual activities, people will need to make assessments of how safe things feel for them, and if they feel they want to balance the risk to their health and wellbeing of being locked down, with the risk of catching the illness if they do get back to normal.

Unemployment

Millions of employees involved in the government’s furlough scheme will be feeling stressed that the scheme will end in October, with many fearing for their jobs while some self-employed people have fallen between stools and received no help at all.

The whole scenario is predicted to mean millions of unemployed workers and the prospect of one of the deepest world recessions in living memory – a great concern for those with mental health issues.

Worrying about employment is a great concern for those with a mental health condition and in turn this can affect their sleep. Those suffering are encouraged to contact BetterHelp, the world’s largest e-counseling platform.

Loneliness

We all appreciate that the lockdown has meant many of us have felt disconnected, isolated and ultimately, lonely. 

While many crave a so-called ‘new normal’ that will no doubt involve greater personal liberty and more social interaction, the long shadow cast by the world’s greatest health crisis in over a century will have a lasting and damaging effect on sufferers of depression.

Many vulnerable members of society have been completely shielding themselves since the end of March relying upon food deliveries and the kindness of friends and neighbours to get them through. Others, meanwhile, have had to pull off the demanding plate-spinning act of working full time whilst homeschooling children.

Living in these conditions can be extremely difficult for those living with depression. With no face-to-face interaction for weeks on end, the world can become a lonely place to many.

But the virus has brought positive changes with many getting involved in community spirit and helping older neighbours out with food shopping. Understanding these values and maintaining them after lockdown is crucial to make long lasting change for lonely people.

Stress and anxiety

Reading or watching the constant news about Coronavirus can make sufferers feel even more anxious. They lose trust in what they hear as they feel the situation is out of their hands.  

Those suffering can help themselves by seeking information from trusted sources and take steps to protect themselves and feel more in control.

Washing hands for 20 seconds, using hand sanitiser and wearing face masks where possible can help relieve the worry related to catching or indeed, spreading the infection.

Show More