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COVID-19 Brings With It Another Great Pandemic: Depression

COVID-19 has illuminated the relationship between the pandemic and depression.

Woman sitting on bed

At first, the social isolation measures served to prevent the most vulnerable populations from suffering the most serious forms of the disease while a better solution was designed. Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Daniel Anato

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Leer en español: La COVID-19 trae consigo otra gran pandemia: la depresión

It has been almost two years since the SARS-COV 2 pandemic began in the city of Wuhan, China, placing the world in a situation that was not expected and generating serious consequences in all areas of life, from politics to mental health. On this occasion, one of these consequences is mentioned: depression as a pandemic.

The SARS –COV 2 infection has proven to be a tough nut to crack for health organizations around the world. At first, the social isolation measures prevented the most vulnerable populations from suffering the most serious forms of the disease while a better solution was designed.

Over the months, numerous studies and clinical trials gave rise to vaccines against the virus showing acceptable effectiveness and giving great hope to many who were isolated from the beginning at home.

However, much remains to be determined about the disease and its effects are still being studied in the human body.

Although the disease begins as a lower respiratory system infection and presents an acute picture of clinical signs and symptoms similar to the flu: common, cough, malaise, fatigue, it can present with peculiar symptoms such as anosmia and ageusia; loss of taste and smell, as well as difficulty in breathing that can escalate to respiratory failure and in the worst cases, death.

Life-threatening manifestations such as pediatric multisystemic inflammatory syndrome in children have been found in some age groups that were not initially related to severe forms of the disease.

Also read: Wealthier Nations Should Stump up for COVID-19 Jab Tax to drive Vaccine Equity

Loss of a loved one, job loss, difficulty communicating or sharing, new unexpected changes, isolation, and increased cost of living are common stressors that can make a person more susceptible to depression. Elderly people who find it difficult to use online tools and social networks are particularly vulnerable to being isolated within their homes without being able to work or socialize with their loved ones.

Children and adolescents are also affected by the pandemic and become depressed. At least this is indicated by a meta-analysis study published in JAMA with more than 80,000 people studied.

On the other hand, health workers, doctors, nurses, laboratory personnel also suffer a considerable burden by being the first line and being exposed to the virus many times in unfavorable working conditions and having to combat the stigmas caused by the virus, this degenerates into burnout syndrome and depression as well.

The COVID 19 pandemic is still in full swing and the world has gradually been adapting, not without some setbacks on the part of leaders and governments around the world and tens of thousands of deaths from the disease. It is not known if this disease will be eradicated by humanity as at some point happened with smallpox or if it becomes endemic and the world has to adapt to living with it.

Depression is a public health problem that has been aggravated in the current pandemic context and should not be underestimated as a comorbidity present in all those affected, directly or indirectly, by COVID 19.