20 votes

Depression and my obsession with national news

corvid-19 has taken over my thinking. I haven't been this depressed in a very long time. Feels like I'm living in a sort of fog. I usually have national news on in the background during the day but the coronavirus is taking over. I don't know if I contracted it. I have been in a funk the last 2 or so weeks. My temp reader (which i don't trust) says im 2 degrees below 97.6. I don't know, i just had to get this off my chest.

18 comments

  1. [7]
    patience_limited
    Link
    Depression is a devilish leech at the best of times - it's able to suck the joy out of happy events, and will drain you dry if you're already suffering. You've already made a step by reaching out...

    Depression is a devilish leech at the best of times - it's able to suck the joy out of happy events, and will drain you dry if you're already suffering. You've already made a step by reaching out - we're not professionals, but know that there are people who care and appreciate that you're here.

    I don't know if these suggestions will work for you, but here's what I'm finding helpful:

    1. It's just not helpful for mental health to immerse yourself in continual exposure to the sensation and alarm of instant "news". That's just exhausting and demoralizing, to the point that "vicarious trauma" can cause PTSD in emergency workers and moderators. I started trimming back my news consumption in January. Events are happening in the world, but a newsletter or two will sum them up for daily consumption purposes. I've got the Guardian app's alerts enabled on my phone for major breaking news, but might turn that off as well.

    2. You've been forced into a major change in your habits - try making choices to ensure the new habits are at least as healthy as the old ones, to the extent possible. As the astronaut Scott Kelly advises, get outside as much as you can. I've been trying for a 6 km hike every other day, and body-weight exercise in between - it's a huge help to do something that gets your heart rate up as well.

    3. Keep to a regular schedule that corresponds to natural daylight hours, if possible. Get up at the time you'd ordinarily get up for work. It's way too easy to be absorbed in news and entertainment, causing long screen hours with blue light exposure. If you're spending much of your time indoors, you may not get enough bright light. You may be getting too little or too much sleep. Those factors contribute to the foggy, disoriented feeling, where you're not sure when you are. Circadian rhythm disruption will f*ck you up, and there's evidence it's the major contributor to seasonal depression, immune/cardiovascular events with DST changes, and so on.

    4. Don't take the guardrails off your consumption of stimulants and recreational drugs (cannabis, alcohol, etc.). Consider reducing or eliminating any habitual use. Sitting at home, I let my caffeine intake creep up and I was both wired anxious and miserably depressed from loss of sleep, requiring still more coffee - it was getting to be a nasty cycle. I'm now locked down to 2 cups between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., and feeling much better.

    5. As with other drugs, keep refined sugar, high-glycemic index, high salt/fat food/drink consumption at a minimum. It's tempting to feed your anxiety to make it go away, but the mood and metabolic effects can be ugly. Crunchy vegetables/fruits, proteins, and slow starches can satisfy most of your needs for dietary excitement and satiety.

    6. Scott Kelly's advice about journaling is well-taken. Even if there's no one with you, write letters to your future self or a mystery reader, every single day. Dump feelings, impressions, memories, ideas, whatever, out on the page. Scream "I was here!" at the universe. It's not the equivalent of professional therapy, but it can be cathartic, inspiring, self-soothing, and a host of other benefits even if you delete/burn the whole thing when the quarantine is over. [My therapist recommended writing longhand, as it supposedly engages different aspects of cognition. I grew up writing before typing, so it didn't seem to make much difference - YMMV.]

    7. There are lots of mindfulness meditation applications available - try one. The techniques are very helpful with anxiety in particular. I've found sitting meditation less helpful for vegetative depression (the kind where you're sluggish and foggy), but walking meditation is great.

    I'm sure others will have useful suggestions, but those are the most effective tools I've got right now. If you're persistently depressed in spite of lifestyle measures, try getting through to your doctor. I have some concerns that physicians may be handing out short-term SSRI prescriptions like candy - it's not a quick fix, and the side-effects aren't trivial. But if you're not able to climb out by yourself, they can be lifesaving.

    14 votes
    1. [6]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      Hey, @bleem. I'm going to second @patience_limited's suggestions here. In particular: I have rationed my intake of news about the coronavirus. For example, I previously had my browser set to start...

      Hey, @bleem. I'm going to second @patience_limited's suggestions here.

      In particular:

      I have rationed my intake of news about the coronavirus. For example, I previously had my browser set to start up with my favourite news site. Now it's an astronomy photo of the day site. That way I don't get immediately sucked down the rabbithole of anxiety-inducing news. I read the news only at certain times, and I ration myself.

      I've re-started mindfulness exercises to reduce my anxiety, and it's helping a little bit.

      Walking every day is good. I went through some tough times a few years back, and taking my housemate's dog out for a walk always made me feel better. Find a reason to go walking once every day. It doesn't have to be for exercise. You just have to get up, go out of the house, and walk somewhere (maintaining an appropriate anti-social distance, of course). Make your walk last for at least 15 minutes (30 if possible). And do it during daylight hours! Walking at nighttime isn't as good for your mood as walking in daytime.

      3 votes
      1. [5]
        ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        What sort of a difference have you noticed?

        Walking at nighttime isn't as good for your mood as walking in daytime.

        What sort of a difference have you noticed?

        1. [4]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          Walking at night just doesn't provide as much of a lift as walking in the day. It's not just the act of walking itself which helps, it's also the sunlight.

          Walking at night just doesn't provide as much of a lift as walking in the day. It's not just the act of walking itself which helps, it's also the sunlight.

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            Interesting. I tend to enjoy the night walks 'cause it's quiet, empty, and botherless, so I can be alone with my thoughts.

            Interesting. I tend to enjoy the night walks 'cause it's quiet, empty, and botherless, so I can be alone with my thoughts.

            1. MimicSquid
              Link Parent
              I don't know how it is where you are, but the days qualify by those standards around me.

              I don't know how it is where you are, but the days qualify by those standards around me.

            2. Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              For the purposes of trying to improve someone's depression (which is what we're discussing here), being in a quiet empty place, left alone with their thoughts, isn't the best strategy. On the...

              For the purposes of trying to improve someone's depression (which is what we're discussing here), being in a quiet empty place, left alone with their thoughts, isn't the best strategy.

              On the other hand, sunlight does improve moods. The brain responds to sunlight by releasing certain hormones. Sunlight is better for lifting someone's spirits than darkness.

  2. [3]
    callmedante
    Link
    Hey, it's completely understandable. I'm struggling with my depression, too, thanks to all the anxiety induced by this situation. My wife practically kicked me out of the house yesterday to get me...

    Hey, it's completely understandable. I'm struggling with my depression, too, thanks to all the anxiety induced by this situation. My wife practically kicked me out of the house yesterday to get me out and moving. Then she highly encouraged me to go for a run. I felt markedly better after some real exercise. If you're able to, try getting some exercise yourself. Anything that gets your heart pumping and gets you sweating. It's not a panacea, but after I was done, I felt a lot of that fog lift. It's something I'm going to have to keep up, because otherwise the fog will just return, but it helped a lot yesterday and I'm still feeling better today.

    This too shall pass. Reach out to friends you haven't talked to in a while. Watch something good on TV (I recommend The Good Place if you haven't already seen it). Get out for some fresh air if possible. Work yourself into a healthy sweat. Take care of yourself, because you are worth it.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      Or even if you already have!

      I recommend The Good Place if you haven't already seen it

      Or even if you already have!

      2 votes
      1. Adys
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I've had countless recommendations for The Good Place. Yesterday I finally started it. Anyway I'm on Season 3 now. Edit: I'm done.

        I've had countless recommendations for The Good Place. Yesterday I finally started it.

        Anyway I'm on Season 3 now.

        Edit: I'm done.

        4 votes
  3. Adys
    Link
    I felt like that when I posted this thread a few days ago. For what it's worth, that feeling went away as soon as I started getting used to "the new normal". Things still suck, but we have to...

    I felt like that when I posted this thread a few days ago.

    For what it's worth, that feeling went away as soon as I started getting used to "the new normal". Things still suck, but we have to accept that they suck for pretty much everyone right now. We're all in this together, as they say.

    Seriously, hang in there. Like others are recommending, find some good stuff to do that you usually put off or don't do; hobbies, cleaning, various pieces of work you never have time for. Make the best of the shitty times.

    Oh also, Belgium has reached its inflection point. We're seeing a decrease in daily new cases. I don't know if that helps you, but it's good news; each country has a light at the end of the tunnel.

    5 votes
  4. bleem
    Link
    Thank you guys for the replies. I visited with family today and it helped. Also seeing my dog was great

    Thank you guys for the replies. I visited with family today and it helped. Also seeing my dog was great

    5 votes
  5. somewaffles
    Link
    Easier said than done but you need to keep yourself busy. I've noticed a lot of friends who don't normally have hobbies, or are the type to come home from work and veg out on their phones, have...

    Easier said than done but you need to keep yourself busy. I've noticed a lot of friends who don't normally have hobbies, or are the type to come home from work and veg out on their phones, have been in panic mode. They are either constantly thinking they have caught the virus, generally losing their minds, or just in a state of helplessness. While there are many reasons for concern, most of it's stuff out of your control. As someone with massive anxiety, this would usually keep me on edge but I have so much to keep me preoccupied I haven't given it too much thought (yet.) Again, easier said than done but it's helped me.

    4 votes
  6. envy
    Link
    Have you thought about offering to help those less fortunate than yourself? I know it might seem strange to suggest this, when you are struggling with your own issues, but focusing on a mission...

    Have you thought about offering to help those less fortunate than yourself?

    I know it might seem strange to suggest this, when you are struggling with your own issues, but focusing on a mission greater than yourself might really help.

    Elderly folk who are alone are in the scary position of being discouraged from going outside, even getting groceries is fraught with increased risk. Elderly folk are less familiar with using zoom or facetime to keep in touch with others, and have lost the ability to maintain in person social networks. Specific offers to deliver groceries or chat over the phone work best.

    4 votes
  7. [4]
    vorotato
    Link
    There's telehealth therapy if you're not already taking advantage of it. Schedule your news reading and limit the amount of time reading the news. Constant reading of virus concern is a good way...

    There's telehealth therapy if you're not already taking advantage of it. Schedule your news reading and limit the amount of time reading the news. Constant reading of virus concern is a good way to get hypochondria.

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      bleem
      Link Parent
      I'm in therapy and had a session over the phone. going to have another with my psych doc in a few days. they want me to put a webcam on my computer but that is a no go.

      I'm in therapy and had a session over the phone. going to have another with my psych doc in a few days. they want me to put a webcam on my computer but that is a no go.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        patience_limited
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I have video therapy sessions, and they work fine. As the therapist explained, they do need to see you for professional reasons - to make sure you're performing basic self-maintenance, like eating...

        I have video therapy sessions, and they work fine. As the therapist explained, they do need to see you for professional reasons - to make sure you're performing basic self-maintenance, like eating and bathing, get impressions of level of physical pain/debility, etc.

        They're also astute at spotting non-verbal emotional responses, to help them pick apart what's really eating you. It can be irritating as hell, but very necessary.

        For privacy concerns, unplug or cover the lens on your webcam when it's not in use.

        2 votes
        1. vorotato
          Link Parent
          yeah I unplug mine which is more than enough for me, however if you deal with obsessive thoughts, simply put it away when it's not in use.

          yeah I unplug mine which is more than enough for me, however if you deal with obsessive thoughts, simply put it away when it's not in use.

          1 vote