"You know, I’ve gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don’t feel yourself."
As an accelerating pandemic and racial tensions grip the nation, Michelle Obama found her mental state rapidly deteriorating. Her formerly positive spirit was unequivocally dampened by the bleak state of world affairs. Obama’s emotional health is indicative of rampant depression and mental illness seizing the globe. With an economy in decline, and a stockpile of extra time, people have too many hours to simply think. The World Health Organization predicts a massive influx of mental health conditions in coming months. Even the most positive people are suffering beneath the weight of novel stressors.
So how do you know if you are one of the 264 million people currently suffering from depression? The tell tale signs include insomnia, low energy, and a lack of interest in activities. However, symptoms occupy a vast range, and it’s important to consult medical professionals instead of self-diagnosing. While depression is often biologically induced, environmental factors can wreak havoc upon your emotional equilibrium. Evidently, the pandemic and racial strife have catapulted millions of Americans into a dark abyss, as they struggle to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Fortunately, there are a few tried and true methods to combat this condition. For instance, Michelle Obama swears by implementing daily routines, managing sleep patterns, and exercising regularly. Personally, I find social interactions to elevate my spirits. Prior to the pandemic, I was fueled by daily encounters, from friends on the street, to classmates, strangers, and more. Social distancing measures prevent these natural forms of communication from arising.
Human beings are accustomed to consistent giving: we share homework, compliment each other, smile from a distance, and wave. These micro-doses of benevolent energy jumpstart our internal rhythms, feeding our brain with happy thoughts. Deprived of these interactions, we begin to ruminate on depressing stories. To counteract this trend, I focus on engaging in at least two positive interactions per day. Whether I ask a friend about their life, compliment a family member, or wave at a distant stranger, I am energized by these simple acts of kindness.
Unfortunately, small adaptations to your routine may not suffice if you are dealing with clinical depression. If you find yourself paralyzed by depressive thoughts, please seek professional medical attention. And remember, you are not alone. 30% of Americans are currently suffering from depression symptoms. This is a real illness, with real consequences. Treatments are available to help lift that gloomy veil from your life. I promise you, there lies a tomorrow beyond these formidable mountains, a tomorrow free from pain.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Written by: Brianna Rauchman