This statistic is important because it provides a glimpse into what people are feeling related to the pandemic and the changes it has brought to society. Along with depression and anxiety, people are feeling grief. There are different types of grief. The grief we feel when we lose a loved one is what we think of most often, but there’s also grief over how the world and our lives have changed. Another kind of grief, called anticipatory grief, happens when we’re uncertain what the future holds.
What Can You Do?
Understand the Stages of Grief
This will help determine if what we’re feeling is coming from one of these stages. Everyone goes through these stages differently and in no particular order. Kessler and Ross identified five stages of grief. Recently, Kessler added a sixth stage.
Here are some examples of how we might move through these stages related to the pandemic:
- Denial – “The pandemic is not going to impact me.”
- Anger – “You’re making me stay home. I can’t do the things I want to do.”
- Bargaining – “If I stay home for two weeks, all will be fine, right?”
- Depression/Sadness – “When will this end? There is no end in sight.”
- Acceptance – “This is real and I must accept it and find a way to move forward.”
- Finding Meaning – “What can I learn as a result of this?”
Find a Balance in Your Thinking
It’s easy to get pulled into negative thinking which can lead to negative feelings. One thing you can do to take control is actively practice positive thinking and even write positive daily messages in a journal.
Think About What You Can and Cannot Control
You can control the things you do – like following the advice of experts. You can wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance to keep yourself and others safe. You can learn new ways to connect virtually. You can’t control what others are doing. You can only control what you’re doing and lead by example.
You will encounter people who are irritable and may catch you off guard if you’re used to them being kind. Remember the world we live in right now and show them empathy. They’re going through tough times, too. Offer support and encouragement.
This is key. Research shows the more connected we are to family, friends and the community, the less violent we’ll be toward others and ourselves, and the fewer mental health and substance use issues we’ll have.
Understand When to Seek Help
You may just need to reach out and talk to a friend, or you may need to seek help from a professional. Grief can sometimes lead to depression.
Know the symptoms of depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts (call 1-800-273-8255 or go to nearest emergency department if experiencing this symptom)
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Anyone experiencing symptoms for two or more weeks should seek professional guidance to determine if they’re experiencing depression. Bryan Medical Center offers free confidential online depression screenings.
David Miers, PhD, LIPC
Dr. Dave Miers, PhD, is the director of Bryan Behavioral Health Services. This includes mental health treatment and counseling, psychiatric evaluations including medication management, and substance use evaluations and treatment.