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The Dangers of Self-Isolation During Lockdown: “Lurking Loneliness and Depression”

by Kayla Gill on March 29, 2021

The following is a guest blog post by one of the current advertisers on LuxuryRehabs.com, Villa Paradiso, which has two locations: Villa Paradiso Tunisia and Villa Paradiso Spain.

Seeing your parents, friends, family and colleagues only using videochat on your phone. Spending the whole day between four walls, with your walk to the supermarket as the highlight of the day. And all that for weeks and weeks . . . can we handle that?

Depression: one of the biggest threats to public health

Depression is a relational problem rather than a mood disorder that can be remedied with pills or simple exercises. Prolonged home isolation can have a detrimental effect on your mental health. And if you already suffer from depressive and/or anxiety symptoms, things can really take a turn for the worst. Especially since isolation is strongly advised against.

Depression is the most common psychological disorder. The percentage of people who suffer from depression at some point in their lives is almost 19 percent. The World Health Organisation even calls depression one of the main causes of dysfunction worldwide.

What is depression?

Depression is a mental illness that affects people’s feelings, thoughts and moods. People who are depressed are depressed for a long time and feel like doing nothing. They often lose interest in the things around them and can no longer really enjoy themselves. One speaks of a depression if the feelings of dejection last at least two weeks. It also includes a lack of motivation.

In the midst of everything and everyone, one feels alone and deserted.

If we zoom in on the experience of people suffering from depression, we see that a sense of isolation is often at the heart of the condition. Existential isolation is what characterises depression above all else. In the midst of everything and everyone, one is alone.

The depressed person feels no connection with the world around him/her and is, as it were, locked up in his/her own body. Everything slows down. The future is closed off, the past a doom, the present a black hole. The openness to the world, to others and also to oneself is closed. One stands alone, in the middle of everything. One stands beside it. There is nowhere left to go.

The inverted image of a successful individual

This sounds like the inverted version of today’s dominant image of a successful individual: the mobile, successful and enjoyable private individual for whom anything is possible and who gets everything out of life. In other words: the flexible producer, trend-sensitive consumer and alert interactivist with an ‘isolationist’ disposition, i.e. a strong tendency towards egocentricity and hedonism.

This is the ideal image that is constantly and widely held up to us, in very diverse, often implicit and sophisticated ways. It is an image that plays on our passions and to which we mirror ourselves, willingly or unwillingly, with all the destructive consequences that this entails, such as the ‘depression epidemic’. We often feel very alone in our isolationism. What is surprising is that we do not realise that isolationism leads to isolation.

How do I recognise (early signs of) depression?

You can recognise a depression if you have certain symptoms. A distinction is made between core symptoms and additional symptoms.

Core symptoms

  • A gloomy/downcast mood
  • A clearly decreased interest in (almost) all activities or clearly decreased pleasure in (all) activities

Additional symptoms

  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite with weight gain
  • Regularly disturbed sleep, insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Restlessness, agitation or feeling inhibited
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Feeling of worthlessness or strong feelings of guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating: difficulty thinking or making decisions
  • Recurring thoughts of death or thoughts/fantasies of suicide

With depression, you usually function poorly (or not at all) at work and in your free time.

How is depression treated?

It is VERY important to take depressive symptoms seriously.

The general practitioner is often the first point of contact in case of psychological problems and complaints. He or she can offer help, advice and support. A diagnosis of depression is made by a doctor, usually a psychiatrist. The diagnosis is important in order to get access to certain services, as well as to get reimbursed for certain medical care.

Mild depressive symptoms often subside within a few weeks, but in some cases, the depression can be mild or severe and last longer. Professional guidance and support is highly recommended in this case. In some cases, an in-patient depression treatment is undoubtedly the best possible approach.

Practical tips (mild depression)

With depression, there are many things you can do yourself to reduce symptoms.

1. Eat and drink healthy

Sufficient nutrition, healthy food and drink, are important things to feel as good as possible physically. A lower physical resistance can make you more susceptible to a depression or depressive symptoms.

2. Establish structure

In case of depression or depressive symptoms, it is important to keep structure, or keep a routine. Here are some ideas:

  • Eat at about the same time every day
  • Get up at about the same time every day and go to bed at about the same time.
  • Get enough sleep every day, but not too much or too little.

There are other ways of creating structure too, such as going for a run every other day.

3. Get moving

When suffering from depression, people often tend to stay at home a lot and stay quiet. Regular exercise is important and can help prevent or reduce mild or moderate depression. Think for example of swimming, running or cycling. Actually, all sports are suitable.

Exercise releases physical substances (endorphins) into the body which make us feel better.

4. Reduce alcohol and drug use

Alcohol and drugs have a disruptive effect on the brain. They can be temporarily relaxing or uplifting, but in the long-term they are counterproductive. Therefore, try to moderate alcohol consumption and avoid narcotics.

5. Participate in hobbies and activities

Relaxing activities can give you distraction and breathing room. This can start with a hobby, a useful job or reading a book. Or go do something fun with friends or family (as Covid restrictions allow—you may have to get creative with virtual meetings: maybe play a game, watch a movie, or have household scavenger hunt!). Try not to isolate yourself, however difficult that may be.

6. Talk about it

It can be very relieving to talk about your depressive feelings or thoughts with someone you trust. Someone who knows you can help remind you of positive points that you may have lost sight of yourself.

 

Reviewed by Olivia Mueller