As the pandemic drags on and on, more of us are struggling with depression, moodiness, and other mental health issues. In a March 20, 2020 article in US News and World Report, it was reported that “Fear of the unknown and uncertainty over how long we’ll have to resort to limiting our daily lives, fear of contracting the coronavirus or even worry about how this will affect one’s financial situation are legitimate concerns.”
Often, we are afraid to bring these concerns up to our families. We struggle on alone, chiding ourselves…we have so much, how can we be so sad; we are still managing to get up in the morning and go to bed at night, things can’t be all that bad; we lost our job, but unemployment is there and so helpful; I really miss the interchange between me and my coworkers (even though I used to complain about them to my partner all the time.) I ran short of food, but the food-shelf was there to step into the breach. I even saw my supervisor standing in line. It isn’t like my family is going without, why should I be so sad. My granddaughter asked if I ever smile anymore. I could have told my daughter how depressed I’ve been, but I didn’t want to put down my “Grammy can handle anything” reputation. Besides, I didn’t want to burden her with something so “silly” as being depressed. So why do I still feel so sad, depressed, lost?
Our unwillingness to act on our feelings of depression and sadness might well be based in the stigma that still haunts mental health issues. The stigma of experiencing depression or moodiness is often more damaging than the experience itself. Although we have come a long way, the acceptance of mental health issues is still a long way off. Learning to cope with your moodiness and the stigma that surrounds it will be helpful. If you would like help dealing with the stigma of mental health issues click here for a worksheet that will help: Focus on Your Strengths Worksheet
If you are one of the people like those in the first paragraph who minimize your depression or moodiness you might find this helpful: Ways I Try to Minimize My Moodiness Worksheet
People become sad for a variety of reasons including disappointment, grief, frustration of not being able to accomplish a project or not getting what’s desired, experiencing despair during the pandemic, etc. When these feelings of sadness last for hours or even a couple of days, they may not be a cause for concern. They may be part of the normal “ups” and “downs” of life. It is common for people to feel blue or down, become frustrated and/or experience a sense of emptiness from time to time.
However, a sad mood which won’t let up can change the way people think and feel and may be a sign of a more serious problem. When people find themselves for several weeks taking little joy in activities they have previously enjoyed, appear irritable a majority of the time, and feel fatigue and a general loss of energy, they may be experiencing the symptoms of more serious problems.
These more serious mood or depression problems stretch far beyond the usual limits of disappointment, loss, frustration, and joylessness. They can be accompanied by an inability to cope with everyday life issues and stressors. Rather than temporary feelings of down in the dumps, these extreme feelings tend to last for more than a few hours or days. They tend to affect all aspects of a person’s life and leave the person feeling empty, unable to move, and hopeless for weeks, months and even years.
People who experience problems in maintaining a balanced and healthy overall mood are often incapable of functioning well in daily life. They often experience extreme emotional states, negative feelings, and self-defeating moods that are inconsistent with what is happening in their environment. People struggling with these mental conditions find that they are unable to overcome their moodiness in the workplace, at home, with family and friends, at school, and in their community. People who experience depression and moodiness may have problems in interpersonal relationships, ability to work effectively, study and concentrate, and in the ways they eat, sleep, relax and live their daily lives.
Much of the material above is from Managing Moods by Ester R.A. Leutenberg and John J. Liptak, EdD.