From Anxiety to Depression – Mental Health in the Coronavirus Pandemic

On 23rd March this year I stared in shock and disbelief at the TV as Boris Johnson told us to lockdown. On a cognitive level I’d seen this coming of course… we all had. I had contingency plans in place for our courses and clients and even felt a little excited at the prospect of adapting to online working. But I quickly realised that the excitement was based on the idea of the change, and when that idea became a reality, the building anxiety generated by the progress of the pandemic properly set in.

I did what I always do in a crisis. I worked harder. The anxiety settled and excitement built back up as the switch to online working tapped me into a creative vein, producing e-learning resources, videos and webinars, re-invigorating course and client work in equal measure.

The summer wasn’t normal, but the lifting of some restrictions made it feel precious. The weather was good and I had some time to recharge.

The risk of depression is very much a reality and, if we don’t respond quickly enough, despair and anger will also abound.

And now, as we watch the cases of Covid 19 rising again, and the consequent hospital admissions and deaths, my response is different. I am notably less anxious, more resigned, less patient, pensive, troubled.

I sense a similar shift in my clients. Everyone was anxious (some were truly frightened and for good reason) back in March. Most, if not all, have adapted, as human beings are brilliant at doing, and anxiety has abated. But as we face a difficult Winter, the mood is dropping. The risk of depression is very much a reality and, if we don’t respond quickly enough, despair and anger will also abound.

As therapists we may find ourselves slightly ahead of the national emotional curve. We work with feelings for a living, our own and our clients, so when we feel a pattern developing in ourselves that is connected to the impact of the pandemic, it will soon be evident in our clients.

So I’m raising the alert for depression, the killer condition, as the nights draw in and Covid delivers us another sucker punch. We need to start those small and simple things that make us feel better now. The film nights, the walks in the rain, the novels, Strictly Come Dancing, grabbing a night out whilst we can, bonfires in fire pits, homecooked meals, talking on the phone instead of Zoom, like in the olden days when none of us knew what Zoom was. Nature, small children, mulled wine, pets, acts of kindness, crinkling our eyes to make sure people know we are smiling under our masks. Cuddles, kisses, sex.

And, of course, central to staying sane in extraordinary times is to access professional help.

Counselling and psychotherapy is needed now more than ever. Let’s get ahead of the depression curve and stop Covid’s attack on our mental health, whilst we get to grips with its threat to our physical health. Reach out to our teams in Sex Therapy Herts to get support with your relationships and sex lives and to Local Counselling Centre for help with anxiety, depression and grief. Both services have low cost options. #upyourscorona!

Blog Post written by:
Julie Sale
CICS Course Director and Psychosexual Psychotherapist