Depression during a Pandemic

April 8, 2020

I have noticed that some of my clients who are suffering from depression are unconcerned about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you find yourself with a “what does it matter” attitude about the current crisis, reflect on this:

You resist believing it is important for you to take action in this pandemic. Is that reflective of a belief that no one cares about you and that you don’t matter? Or is it reflective of a belief that you are incapable of doing anything that has a real impact on yourself, others, or the world around you?

Normally it may seem like you are the only one hurt in believing yourself to be powerless, having no effect on the world. The pandemic is an opportunity for you to recognize that this notion may not be true.

When we don’t acknowledge that we affect others, we can unintentionally start to abdicate responsibility. It is easier to be unkind to others if we have convinced ourselves that we don’t or can’t affect them. Likewise, if we convince ourselves that we have no power and nothing to offer then it is easier to stand idly by when others suffer. In the case of the pandemic, feeling depressed may make it easier to believe that what we do can’t possibly make any difference.

These beliefs that we are powerless and unimportant are cognitive distortions: they are lies that depression tells us. You can use this crisis as an opportunity to recognize these lies and refuse to believe them. Take action – even if that action is “only” maintaining social distancing. Even if you currently find it difficult to care about your own well-being, you can help keep others safe by staying home as much as possible. In doing so, you may find yourself feeling a greater sense of purpose and empowerment, especially if you can acknowledge that you are working together with others to achieve something important.

 

– Tod Fiste, LPC