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Depression due to COVID: “The pandemic is the most aggressive social stressor that we have suffered as humanity”

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Mental health experts agree that COVID-19 depression is here to stay. According to Sonia Almada, psychoanalyst (MN 22366), specialist in Childhood and adolescence and president of Aralma civil association, “the pandemic brought widespread social and personal effects on multiple levels: confusion, fear, uncertainty, and grief over the death of loved ones ”. “It has been, and still is, one of the most aggressive social stressors that we have suffered as humanity”, He sentenced.

Changing routines from one day to the next, not being able to see our families and friends, losing our jobs and living in isolation, particularly in the case of single people, are just a few examples of this. There is recent international data, showing the extent to which COVID-19 has impacted on the mental health of countless people, “he added.

Experts agree that depression due to COVID-19 will be more and more frequent (Shutterstock)

Consulted by Infobae, Pedro Horvat, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst (MN 70.936), stated without hesitation: “Of course depression increased by COVID-19 And this is due to two causes: the objective is that many people are depressed because they lost health, loved ones, work, possibilities in life, dreams and / or projects. With the prolongation of the pandemic they do not know what and when they will recover them. This is objective, it is called exogenous depression and it is produced by external elements ”.

“On the other hand there is the endogenous or subjective question, that is, that depression that derives from not being able to finish organizing an action that is truly effective, that starts my social life, that protects my health and that reactivates my work. All this combination means that ultimately we can make some successful adaptations: the best defense we can achieve in some cases and for some people is to reduce the risks of contagion, reasonably sustain work activity and eventually resume social life, “the psychoanalyst listed.

According to experts, the pandemic will likely lead to "high rates" of post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and substance abuse among survivors, families of victims, medical workers and other essential employees (EFE / Peter Foley / Archive)

Louis hornstein, prestigious psychiatrist (MN 32290) awarded the Konex Platinum award in 2006 for his career in psychoanalysis and current president of FUNDEP (Foundation for the Study of Psychoanalysis), explained to Infobae what happens to people when traumas are devastating: “In these contexts, plots are broken -psychic, symbolic, family, social- and when faced with levels of uncertainty such as those generated by COVID-19 that exceed a certain limit, they make it impossible to imagine a future. In the current clinic the consultations of people who are going through situations of helplessness predominate, so they present a cocktail with some of the following indicators: intense oscillations of self-esteem and hopelessness, apathy (feeling of indifference or lack of emotion, often as a sign of depression or inappropriate use of alcohol or drugs), hypochondria (obsession with the idea of ​​having a serious undiagnosed illness), sleep and appetite disorders, lack of projects, crisis of ideals and values, blurred identities, impulses, addictions, lability in ties, psychosomatic symptoms, among others ”.

Depressions make up the dark side of contemporary intimacy. This scourge increases before this catastrophic pandemic that we travel ”, warned the specialist.

In dialogue with Infobae, Silvia Justo, graduated in Psychology (UBA), specialist in Clinical Psychology (MN 9656), founder and director of Cesamende (First Center for Mental Health Specialists of Villa Devoto), agreed with her colleagues regarding the emergence of depression due to COVID- 19: “The depressive condition is always accompanied by sadness, discouragement, devaluation, insomnia, fear of facing daily obligations. If the pandemic increased these pictures? Yeah sure. More people with depression come to the office. These people have a constant fatigue that invades their universe, a loss of interest in what is alive in life and desire, the drive for life is a little off, there is no desire to sustain the daily life of existence.

Social isolation and unimaginable levels of uncertainty, caused by the pandemic, prevent us from imagining the future: anguish and depression are the answers

The anguish in the face of a long period of isolation of several months, the uncertainty, the lack of a clear horizon and the fear of an invisible and highly contagious virus deeply penetrated the Argentines. March 3, 2020 the first case of COVID-19 in Argentina and since then we have lived in constant tension the evolution of the pandemic. Advised by epidemiologists, infectologists and other experts, the authorities adopted extreme measures, such as closing borders and requiring the population to confine themselves to their homes. First, they were whole months under a system called Social, Preventive and Mandatory Isolation (ASPO), with different more or less strict phases, and measures of relaxation or hardening of the quarantine according to the epidemiological moment.

In this harsh context, depression said present, and now experts warn that the pandemic affects and will strongly affect people’s mental health. January 13 was the World Day to Combat Depression, a frequent mental disorder, characterized according to the who due to the presence of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or lack of self-esteem, sleep or appetite disorders, feelings of fatigue and lack of concentration. A condition that affects more than 300 million people in the world, although, according to distinguished experts warned this media, with the pandemic the figure is growing alarmingly.

January 13 was World Day to Combat Depression

Pedro Horvat explained clearly how the pandemic context affects depression: One of the most traumatic situations for the psyche is when the Ego feels that it is incapable of organizing the defense of the organism. What does this mean? This is a traumatic situation because it produces a sharp feeling of helplessness. Some people react with fear and panic and others depressively. This is what is happening with COVID-19. We do not know what are the measures that would make us totally sure of not contracting it; even people who take care of themselves have become infected, they have seen their loved ones get infected and it is not known what is the course that the disease will follow in each one of us ”.

“The first feeling is that we cannot organize a strategy that is effectively a solution to guarantee our health and that of our loved ones. Second: the same happens in the labor, social and organization of life in general. The prolongation of the pandemic, the second wave, possible outbreaks, and the discussions and delays around the vaccine produce an acute sense of uncertainty., which is the one that in the long run generates depressive feelings in some people ”, listed Horvat, who is a former member of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association (APA).

According Sonia Almada, “Scientific studies show that some psychiatric disorders increased notably: anxiety, depression, insomnia, and general fears in children, adolescents and adults. The rate of mental disorders was higher even in infected people and in health workers who treat people with COVID-19 every day. It was found that the most prevalent causes that generate anxiety and depression during confinement are those related to emotional changes, fear of the arrival of the pandemic in each country, the increase in cases and the impact on social life. In addition, it is evidenced with respect to the percentages obtained, that women are more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression, taking into account that the measures taken as prevention to avoid the spread of COVID-19, affect this gender to a greater extent because they are usually in charge of caring for children and the elderly ”.

Depression affects more than 300 million people in the world according to the WHO

According to Almada, “In the case of the children in the clinic, we could observe that the fears were based on the fear of the death of loved ones and of death itself. Sadness for not being able to share time with friends and loved ones. This was reflected in signs of anxiety that brought temporary sleep disorders, eating disorders and anhedonia (inability to enjoy) ”.

“Now, although the pandemic has affected all children and adolescents in one way or another, A child with a stable and harmonious life situation with financial resources is not the same as another who lives in marginality and poverty or deprived of parental care “, differentiated.

In any case, there is a lack of more studies that measure the real impact of the pandemic on the psyche. “It is important to carry out research on the impact of the pandemic because ignorance and misinformation do not allow us to act effectively, before the signs of mental illness that later can turn into illnesses. At the same time, there are prevention campaigns that alert families and educators to these signs, ”said the specialist in mental health and childhood.

Depression is a mood disorder that affects both children and adults

Does this phenomenon have a different incidence according to the age group? Silvia Justo answered this question to Infobae: “Yes, of course, since of all the groups in relation to the ages, the most affected is the young adult, because it is the one who has the greatest difficulties in complying with isolation and social distancing, unlike the older adult who is protected by being isolated. But this does not deprive them of experiencing some anguish because they feel time is running out”.

At this point, and also consulted hereby, Dr. Andrea Abadi, psychiatrist (MN 76165) director of the INECO Foundation and one of the child health specialists who advised President Alberto Fernández and the head of the Buenos Aires Government, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta on the negative consequences of isolation in children and adolescents, explained: “ The expression of depressive illness is different in children, these they are often unaware of their illness and are usually presented as irritable, listless, loss of interest in recreational activities and a sense of rejection of the context that makes them constantly reactive and annoying ”.

"The most affected is the young adult, because it is the one who has the greatest difficulties in complying with isolation and social distancing, unlike the older adult who is protected by being isolated," explained psychologist Silvia Justo to Infobae

Although there are few reports on the effect of the pandemic on children and adolescents, what has been seen is that they report a feeling of loneliness, reluctance, lack of motivation to study or recreational activities and low hope for the future. These symptoms are not enough to make a diagnosis of depression, it would be necessary to deepen. However, as the isolation progressed, the consultations, in our environment, as in other countries, usually have to do with symptoms compatible with depression and anxiety in children and adolescents ”, he added.

“For the disease to express itself as such, we must have a biological predisposition,” said Abadi-, but in many who had this vulnerability, the lack of contact with peers, the loss of a routine and the situations of the pandemic context in the homes led them to demonstrate their biological susceptibility”.

Photos: Shutterstock

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