Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidential election, and rise in racial justice movements and protests, it has been a politically contentious year. Those who hoped the pandemic would end after a few months or that the presidential race would be decided November 3 were sorely disappointed. The political controversy and upheaval of this year has stretched out, causing a rise in stress, depression and anxiety for many.
Depression is a common mental health disorder in the United States, with more than 17 million Americans reporting depressive episodes. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can have a number of causes, including biological, psychological and social.
As opposed to sadness, grief, or stress, depression is characterized by a reduced sense of pleasure, interest, and self-esteem that lasts at least two weeks and affects daily functioning.
It is possible to feel intense and complex emotions as a result of the current political climate, and it is also possible to simultaneously experience depression.
Common signs of depression include:
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Memory problems or difficulty making decisions
- Loss of appetite
- Digestive problems that don’t resolve with treatment
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Substance abuse
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Clinical depression is a mental illness, not an emotion or just a “slump.” Everyone feels down from time to time, but chronic depression can affect psychological as well as physical health and should be treated.
Everyday Health has assembled a list of support organizations and resources for individuals struggling with depression. If you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms listed above, it may be helpful to browse resources or talk to a mental health provider.