Battling depression during COVID lockdown

Battling depression during COVID lockdown
By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/12/2020 4:59:01 AM IST

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear the frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching “ than to say “ My heart is broken “ – C.S.Lewis

According to Cambridge University, “Depression is defined as a mental illness in which a person is very unhappy and anxious (worried and nervous) for long periods and cannot have a normal life during these periods.  Tiredness, loss of appetite and sleeping problems are all classic symptoms of depression”.

A psychologist would define Depression as –a group of conditions associated with the elevation or lowering of a person’s mood, such as bipolar disorder or Manic Depressive Disorder.

Manic episodes may include symptoms such as;

• High energy

• Reduce need for sleep

• Loss of touch with reality

 Depressive episodes may include symptoms such as:

• Low energy

• Low motivation

• Loss of interest in daily activities

*Mood episodes last days to months at a time and may also be associated with suicidal thoughts. Coming to the present scenario “The Lockdown”- people around the globe are affected mentally by depression. Whatever the causes maybe,  our mind has the ability to deceive us into getting drowned in our thoughts of FEAR;  fear from dying from COVID or being infected by it or fear of  losing our loved ones in this crisis, loss of jobs, fear of being alone etc.

These are some classic examples of human PSYCHE that has been affected by the ongoing novel coronavirus and its counterpart ‘The Lockdown’.

As the Japanese say about a person having three faces, the most dangerous being the third one ie the face that you never show to anyone, the truest reflection of yourself. Why I say dangerous is the fact that this third face of yours can either make you or break you. When your darkest self takes control of your  mind i.e your PSYCHE,  then you are grappled by your fears for a prolonged time and sometimes you get drowned in it which later can lead to anti-social behaviour or worst-suicide

We don’t hear much of suicide cases in Nagaland unlike mainland India,  nevertheless suicide is rampant in our society which tries to conceal it for the shame that it would bring to the bereaved family. our society does not freely talk about suicide as it is unethical /unacceptable/against religion.

Coming to the present context of cornona pandemic – it is a pandemic of the mind more than the disease because of the fear created by the pandemic.  Many people round the globe are in a cloud of depression for fear of contracting the disease and especially being stigmatized by the society.

Many people have stopped interacting with the outside world and also have stopped following their usual regime and lifestyle which in turn has brought forth a lot of mental issues;  be it depression or suicide. We have heard of billionaires, millionaires, doctors, eminent personalities who have died from it.

After a Portuguese billionaire who died of COVID-19,his daughter on social media wrote,

“We are rich family, but my father died from suffocation alone in the hospital while trying to catch something free: air, he left all of his wealth behind at home”!

We also know of famous Bollywood personality Sushant Singh Rajput who died of suicide and also 16 year old TIKTOK sensation Siya Kakkar who died by suicide.

Paris Jackson(Michael Jacksons daughter) said this,”…within the year of him passing away I moved in with my grandma, so there were no rules, soda and cake all the time. I gained a lot of weight and then a cousin called me fat and…that’s how I fell into SELF-HARM.”

Rich, famous and powerful people and also people living in poverty or BPL go through depression in one way or the other. Depression doesn’t choose me or you , we choose it and we become victim to it. Prolonged depression can lead to self-harm or suicide..

Yet it’s time the church/NGO’s come to play a bigger role in combating the disease called suicide- depression.

Every family suffers from depression in one way or the other. If it is not addressed right away and left unnoticed,  it might result in dire consequences.  Charity begins at home and as such members of the family when faced with any other  member falling victim to it must immediately  seek help from a therapist/support groups/church/counsellors etc

We say, “An idle mind is a devil’s workshop” which has proven itself worthy for the weaker spirits. At times like this, we are reminded of a supreme being who is in control of this whole universe even beyond the milkyway .

The Need of the hour is to have an unwavering faith in the creator as we know that not even the president or the prime minister can rescue us from this novel virus. The best coping mechanism is our faith. As for me and my family we are overcoming our day to day battles by aligning our faith towards God.  To be around support groups be it within your family or peers also has proven helpful. Thirdly, talking to someone you trust or a therapist/counsellor can also help us cope with depression. Fourthly, learning a new hobby really brings out the best in us. Above all, having faith in the creator makes all the more easy for all of us to overcome this crisis. We Can!

Amen Yaden

Matsungshila Pongener

Depression is such an overused word yet barely understood well by the people. We often hear about it in our daily conversation and misconstrue it with feelings of sadness or grief or bereavement. While the loss of a loved one or the loss of a job or a relationship can be an overwhelming feeling, it is a natural response to such situations. However, clinical depression is more than the sadness; it is a mood disorder that affects how someone feels, thinks and go about with their daily activities, affecting anyone at any point in time. Given the ongoing pandemic, worsened by its unique circumstances, there is a surge in situational depression affecting people. Situational depression is a stress-related type of depression; a type of adjustment disorder which is short-term in nature. 
Some of the key changes to look out for someone struggling with depression are appetite, sleep, performance/productivity, fatigue, loss of interest/pleasure in activities once enjoyed, difficulty in thinking/concentrating or makingdecisions, feelings of worthlessness/guilty, thoughts of death or suicide. 
To the best of my knowledge, I have not come across any peer-reviewed research articles reporting from Nagaland that have highlighted the prevalence of depression across a large sample. Also given my training as a mental health researcher rather than a practising psychologist, my knowledge on this topic might be different from those of my colleagues who are practising counselling in Nagaland. However, finding a licensed psychologist/counsellor is rare in our state. 
Given the exigency of the current scenario, everyone is in a state of uncertainty. The state government and the frontline workers are overworked, families are concerned of their wards, there are dire financial hardships in families due to loss of employment, and the lack of proper healthcare infrastructure and facilities poses a very grim reality to bite for the public psyche. However, the Naga society has always been community-centric even in the face of ‘social’ distancing. This collective altruism has buffered the stress added with an ounce of belief in God. It is okay to feel overwhelmed, scared and angry in a crisis. Combat your anxiety and stress by talking to someone, be physically active, and focus on facts rather than rumours as spread widely in the social networks.
For anyone out there who is struggling with a mental health issue, there is hope. You are not alone. Please reach out to people whom you trust, open up and talk to them. Additionally, seek professional help with a licensed psychologist/counsellor or a psychiatrist. A psychologist/counsellor employs talk therapy or psychotherapy and helps a client through cognitive and behavioural interventions. A psychiatrist, on the other hand, is a trained doctor who prescribes medications in conjunction with providing psychotherapy. Sometimes finding the ‘right’ mental health professional might be challenging but do not be disheartened until you find the right one for yourself.
Matsungshila Pongener
Doctoral Candidate in Health Psychology
IIT Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Should you feel distressed, please contact:
iCall Psychosocial Helpline
Telephone: 022-25521111 (Monday to Saturday, 8 AM to 10 PM)
Email based counselling:
Chat based counselling: nULTA App (Monday to Friday, 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM)

Vivi Zhimomi 
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel,  the way you think and how you act. Sadness, feeling down, and having a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities are familiar feelings for all of us. But if they persist and affect our lives substantially, the issue may be depression. It can affect adults, adolescents, and children.
Considering the present generation lifestyle and the influence of various factors on the Naga society eg : technology, influence of foreign countries, gaming addiction etc., our society-especially the youths- are going through one or the other type of depression according to the kind of environment that they are in. However, I would like to mention two types of depression most prevalent among our people especially the youths. 
1. Relationship issues within the family : Environment and care taker plays the most important role on who the child or person becomes in the future. Many parents fail to understand their child’s wants and needs and when he/she is in need of help the most. Therefore, the child gets frustrated and angered because he/she does not get attention/care from their caregiver which in turn causes mental illness .The causes for all this is due to lack of communication and parents not being able to spend much time with their child .
2. Peer pressure among the teenagers: Peer pressure in high school is very common in Nagaland and I feel parents and teachers are not much aware in this area. Peer pressure is both harmful and effective because it can lead to teen depression, high stress levels, negative behaviour issues like dating attitudes, sexual activity and use to drugs/alcohol. Peer pressure does not arise from within the family but due to poor decision-making. With the right guidance, negative effects due to peer pressure are very much treatable.
The coping mechanism to overcome this sickness is by seeking professional help from a therapist (clinical psychologist). It takes 15-20 sessions with the therapy call CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy). CBT therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on addressing automatic negative thoughts, and unhealthy thought patterns, along with improving emotional regulation. It helps to challenge and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that stop a person from functioning normally. It talks about how you think about yourself, the world and other people.
How and what you do affects your thoughts and feelings. CBT can help you to change how you think (Cognitive) and what you do (behaviour). These changes can help you to feel better. It focuses on the ‘here and now’ problems and difficulties. Whilst it is often useful to discuss the past and understand how our pasts have influenced our lives and how problems have arisen, CBT mostly focuses on looking for ways to improve your mental well-being now. CBT says that it’s not the event which causes our emotions but how we interpret that event-what we think or what meaning we give that event or situation.
Stress about COVID-19 ? Here’s what can help
 1. Limiting computer screen time and media exposure. “While keeping informed about current events is important but much attention can cause problems,” Setting boundaries can prevent feeling overwhelmed by the situation.
 2. Avoid sending chains and fatalistic messages. Some people don’t have the same mental strength as you (Instead of helping others you could activate pathologies such as depression).
3. Talk to your children. Children may feel afraid or anxious about the new coronavirus. It’s important to validate feelings of worry and not dismiss them outright, listen and provide accurate information to reduce their risk of catching it.
4. Be  positive. It will help protect your immune system, while negative thoughts have been shown to depress your immune system and make it weak against viruses.
People who are suffering from different kind of mental illness may contact:- Vivi   Zhimomi. Joyous Life Professional Counseling Center ,Police colony (near Salt Christian College) (register under RCI ) Dimapur Nagaland. Contact number- 8368172585
Most importantly, meditate on the scripture and always trust God. Isaiah 40:31- “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. 
They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint”  God bless !

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