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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:

  1. Insomnia or sleeping too much
  2. Memory problems or difficulty making decisions
  3. Loss of appetite
  4. Digestive problems that don’t resolve with treatment
  5. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  6. Substance abuse
  7. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  8. Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  9. Feeling worthless or guilty
  10. 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.