9 depression symptoms in COVID-19 front-line workers

depression symptoms

9 depression symptoms

COVID-19 is like nothing any of us are likely to have ever seen.

Front-line workers like doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospital staff and police, are accustomed to the day-to-day stresses of their usual roles. It ‘comes with the turf’. COVID-19, however, brings with it unique strains, pressures and anxieties way beyond what these heroic workers could have expected when they initially signed up for their jobs.

Enter the real risk of depression —silently, without warning.

If you know a front-line worker, here are nine depression symptoms (not in any order) to look out for, and are present nearly every day, which may indicate they are at risk of or prone to depression (or related illnesses) while they attend to help others cope with COVID-19.

  1. Depressed mood (feeling sad, blue, ‘down in the dumps’ or empty) most of the day.
  2. Easily distracted, experiencing memory difficulties, indecisiveness or a diminished ability to think or concentrate.
  3. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (for example, deliberating over minor past failings).
  4. Inability to get to sleep or difficulty staying asleep (insomnia) or excessive sleeping, sleeping too much (hypersomnia).
  5. Fatigue, loss of energy or tiredness making small tasks seem challenging or take longer than usual.
  6. Regular thoughts of death (not just a fear of dying), persistent suicidal ideas, attempts or plans.
  7. Significant weight loss (not from a diet) or gain (more than 5% of body weight in a month), or a change in appetite (increase or decrease).
  8. A noticeable decline in interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities such as no interest in sports, hobbies, or other things that the worker used to enjoy doing.
  9. Problems with sitting still including constant restlessness, pacing or picking at their clothes; or the opposite, a slowing in movements, whispering with slowed speech.

If your worker is exhibiting at least five of these symptoms in their daily activities consistently for at least two weeks at a time and this represents a significant change in the worker’s ‘normal’ mood, they are likely to be experiencing depressive symptoms. If this is the case, you will probably notice changes in the way they function at work, socially, in their educational endeavours or other similar essential life functions. Examples are missing work or university classes or ceasing to attend their usual social engagements (at present, all subject to social distancing requirements).

In these circumstances, you should consider trying to help the worker take steps to prevent the devastating, life-changing and potentially long-lasting effects of depressive illness.

My tip. Be attentive. If there is a potential problem, seek quality advice and assistance and get it early. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you do? You’ll potentially save a life.

© 2020. Robert Nicholls. All Rights Reserved.


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