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COVID and the difficulties in caring for a depressed person

05 February 2021 11:22

According to a report published in The Lancet on November 9th, 2020, eighteen per cent of COVID patients developed a mental health issue (particularly anxiety disorders such as depression) within three months of diagnosis. Their risk was doubled compared to people who didn’t have COVID. 

With the emergence of the second wave in 2021, cases of depression are rising. But it is not only those infected by COVID that become depressed. People not infected are also getting depressed due to being locked down, becoming unemployed leading to financial difficulties, facing tensions with their partners and having to look after young children at home because schools are closed.

There is also increasing evidence that children and young students are also becoming depressed due to disrupted education and not being able to meet up with their friends. 

Depression is a seriously debilitating illness and, in the more severe cases, the depressed person can become suicidal. Although depression is treatable, there is often a problem where the depressed person does not seek treatment due to the stigma that is attached to mental illnesses. 

But it is not only the depressed person with a problem. The effects of the illness also impacts on the person’s carers. Carers are suddenly thrust into caring for a person suffering from an illness they barely understand. The carer begins to lead a life which can at times be overwhelming and demanding. Normal social and family life can be disrupted. As the illness progresses, many carers report feelings of being worn down physically and mentally from the stress of caring as well as not being able to plan for the future. They also experience a sense of hopelessness, frustration, annoyance and feel neglected and isolated. As a result of this, there is the danger that carers could also become depressed.

So, the issue is just how can carers best deal with the situation they suddenly find themselves in? What does the future hold and how can they best help the depressed person and themselves?  

Too many people who are caring for a loved one do not get the information and support they really require - but support is available in An Introduction to Coping with Depression for Carers by Tony Frais to meet that need.  The advice in this book is based on research evidence, and illustrated with quotes from people who have really experienced caring themselves. It doesn't take long to read and could be invaluable if you are caring for someone who is depressed and have no idea where to turn or what to do for the best.