If you’ve been depressed or anxious during the COVID-19 pandemic, know you’re not alone. Stay-in-Bed Mom Blog is here to help. There has been an explosion in reported cases of depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy affects one in seven women in what’s now referred to as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). According to a study, University of Alberta researchers discovered that the pandemic is creating even more struggles.
Of the 900 new mothers interviewed, researchers found that 40.7% of new moms had symptoms of depression compared to 15% pre-pandemic. Authors of the study also cited 72% of new mothers felt moderate to high anxiety, a 43% increase from the number of new mothers reporting anxiety before the pandemic.
The study only interviewed new moms, so the emotional toll on all moms may be greater.
Perhaps you’re predisposed to depression and/or anxiety and you’ve suffered with it before. The pandemic has made your symptoms worse, and you’re having difficulty managing the ups and downs of life.
Or maybe you’ve never experienced symptoms of depression or anxiety in your life. These thoughts and feelings are new and unwelcome. Your behaviors have changed due to your current state of being.
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause: fear and worry about your own health and those of loved ones, your financial situation or job, loss of support services, changes in sleep or eating patterns, trouble sleeping or concentrating, worsening of chronic health problems, worsening of mental health conditions, increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.
You may be more at risk if you’re:
- a single mom
- a teen mom
- at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g. an older mom or a mom with underlying medical conditions)
- a caretaker
- a frontline worker (e.g. a health care provider or first responder)
- an essential worker (e.g. a worker in the food industry)
- a mom who has lost her jobs, had her work hours reduced, or had other major changes to her employment
- a mom who has disabilities or developmental delays
- a mom who is socially isolated from others (e.g. a mom who lives alone and a mom in rural or frontier areas)
- a mom in some racial and ethnic minority groups
- a mom who does not have access to information in her primary language
- a mom experiencing homelessness
- a mom who lives in congregate (group) settings
- a mom with existing mental health conditions
- a mom who uses substances or has a substance use disorder
Moms with pre-existing mental health conditions or substance use disorders may be particularly susceptible to depression and anxiety in the pandemic. Mental health conditions (such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia) affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior in a way that influences their ability to relate to others and function each day. These conditions may be situational (short-term) or long-lasting (chronic). People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. If you drop an already anxious person into a nerve-racking situation, it may worsen depressive and anxious symptoms.
Are you in one of these populations? Perhaps you feel like you have been deserted on an island like never before.
Why the uptick in depression and anxiety?
- stress of the pandemic can worsen preexisting depression and anxiety
- disruptions in daily life make the future feel uncertain
- social and physical isolation, social distancing; e.g. spending more time in the house
- worrying about the health of those close to us
- displacement from home and rehoming with parents or extended family
- economic hardship that may come from the loss of a job or reduced work hours
- no childcare or changed, limited childcare options (e.g. grandparents not babysitting or providing care)
- guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties while you had COVID-19
What can you do about it?
- Make time for yourself by doing activities and hobbies you enjoy. Stay-in-bed!
- Prioritize physical activity or exercise (recommended 150 minutes a week).
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use.
- Be more mindful. Engage in yoga and/or a meditation practice.
- Chat with friends or join a social support group (e.g. phone calls and/or video chats.)
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories.
When the above doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to seek treatment from a healthcare professional. If you think you have new or worse symptoms, call your healthcare provider. It’s more important than ever to take care of your mental and emotional health. Stay-in-Bed Mom Blog’s mantra is “A happy parent = a happy baby”. An equally important one is “a happy brain = a happy parent”.
- “Anxiety, depression increasing among mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic” – ABC News
- “Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19” – CDC
A Final Thought – From the Pillow
You are not alone.
So don’t feel you have to mask your depressive and anxious symptoms from friends and family.
Are you feeling depressed or anxious during the pandemic? What are you doing to survive (and thrive) during it all?