Coronavirus: coping with depression in quarantine
Written by Oliver Little on 7 avril 2020
The current Covid-19 crisis is one that is a particularly trying time for us all. But what about those who started the quarantine period in clinical depression. We’re speaking to Arne Prust, a Dutch therapist working for Therapy in Barcelona.
So first of all just for those who don’t know, explain exactly what is depression ?
<< Depression is characterized by feeling down for a period of two weeks or longer, lack of sleep or sleeping too much, lacking appetite or eating too much, just unable to enjoy life anymore. >>
I would assume that the symptoms you’ve just listed aren’t necessarily found in all cases?
<< It will vary from person to person. People can feel very down because of pressures of being alone but depression might be caused by people running on fumes and being overloaded. >>
So what you’re saying is that for some people the quarantine might actually be something of a positive experience ?
<< Some people will actually thrive. Depression can come from the outside pressure in daily life, and so being in quarantine that will happen a lot less because there is no pressure to perform anymore. On the other hand, it can push someone further into their depression. If you’re living by yourself, you need to work hard to not be more isolated. >>
For those who maybe will feel the effects of the quarantine in more of a negative way, what are the biggest dangers ?
<< Being isolated, less of the routine that is normal, quarantine will cut the routine and social interaction that people are used to having. >>
For those who are struggling what are things people can do to help themselves ?
<< It is very important for everybody but especially people with depression or anxiety to get structure – a time to get up, activities to do, physical exercise, make sure that you interact with people you are living with, eat healthy, sleep well, limit news intake and do things that feel useful. Mindfulness meditation is really helpful because it helps distract your mind of worries. >>
And is this the kind of issue that, for most people, get more and more difficult over time ? We are a few weeks into quarantine now and unsure when it is going to end – does this pose particular worries for people with depression that it will continue to go on and on and the same stresses repeat and repeat ?
<< We are not used to being confined, with or without people. At the same time though it invites working on our relationships with people or working yourself, how can I enjoy myself and have a good time on my own ? >>
Obviously very useful stuff what you’re saying, but as they say in boxing everyone has a plan until they get punched in the head. So, when someone with clinical depression, who takes this advice on board, when they go over to that place and the advice starts to go out the window, what can they do to try and remind themselves of the importance of this advice ?
<< Do little things that help you. Something as simple as a short meditation, sending a kind text to a loved one, making your favourite cup of tea. >>
And one of the biggest dangers of this time especially if you are living alone is technology – the news, social media, Google. What would you have to say about the dangers posed by quarantine in this context ?
<< If you notice that this stresses you out, then limit your technology, social media and news intake. >>
And I suppose that despite the fact that perhaps demand for therapy has gone up, I presume it’s more difficult for you as a therapist now to keep working ?
<< I am not completely out of work but we cannot have face to face sessions anymore – therapy is not a legitimate enough reason to leave the house. We have switched to online sessions and it is working quite well. For some people, it is more uncomfortable. What we also notice is that people were a little bit lost towards the beginning of the quarantine – clients that had to go back to their home country, so there was a bit of chaos. >>
So would you say that it is actually a positive thing that you have managed to find this way to adapt and do your clients find it useful ?
<< Therapy is still very effective for people. Even with the physical distance, you still feel close, held and heard. >>
Very important advice for us all to take on board regardless of whether we are suffering from depression or not during this difficult time.