Sabrina Feitosa, Psychologist, gets real with The Femme about the issue
The pandemic has brought, along with the numerous lockdowns, an increase in depression and anxiety, although for the last months we’ve been slowly recovering a “normal” routine with the end of restrictions in close sight. Despite this, the conversation around mental health is still a question to be discussed. During the lockdown, the percentage of people who experienced symptoms of depression and anxiety increased significantly in the UK from 9.7% between July 2019 and March 2020 to 19.2% in June 2020, according to the Office of National Statistics.
Factors such as isolation, loneliness, irregular sleep patterns, having to deal with grief and with the pressure to be productive in a time of uncertainty; the increase is even higher with young adults, between 18-24 and women.
We spoke to, Sabrina Feitosa, psychologist and hypnotherapist who answered some of the most commonly asked questions around the theme and shared some light on how to tackle negative thoughts.
Is the increase of depression and anxiety a direct result of the pandemic?
Yes but not only. There are many factors that influence the increase of depression and anxiety cases worldwide, since the beginning of the pandemic. Mental health is an issue and I blame two main factors, firstly the pandemic put us in a tough place. Unemployment, grief, hunger and many others sceneries. Secondly, many of the problems that led people to depression and anxiety are problems that were left to solve later. Traumas and distress were possible to ignore after having a busy day. Some were running away from it because sometimes is just really difficult to face it and the pandemic pressed a trigger.
Does social media have a negative effect on these mental health issues?
Social media influences negatively in many cases of depression and anxiety but it’s also a tool to help a lot of people. It all depends how people use it. Of course, there’s many people showing off mansions, expensive cars, a perfect family, even during the pandemic and this isn’t a problem. The problem is when a person from a different reality starts comparing her or his life with that life on the internet. But this isn’t necessarily because of social media, usually the person who compares her or his life with a life seen on internet would do it outside the screens too, leading sometimes to cases of depression. On the other hand, with the increase of mental health issues, social media became a place to talk about it, to discuss, alert and help people. Mental health struggles of the pandemic has facilitated honesty and empathy around the theme, which is key to break with the taboo of “not talking about it” and it helps some individuals to seek help. A lot of people have been either reaching out for help or helping others in all the ways possible. Being kind brings benefits for mental health in both sides.
Remember: it’s ok to not feel ok some days. Things will get better, and if you feel you need help, don’t be ashamed to look for it!Sabrina Feitosa
Why is the difference in numbers between men and women so exorbitant?
The number of unemployment is higher between women than men because usually, the women are the first to give up their jobs to take care of children, parents, grandparents, etc. Of course, when you need to give up something that you fight for it can affect the self-esteem of many women. The financial independence that many women conquered in the last years, they see themselves questioning if they will be able to get it back making them feel anxious and self-critical. It’s very important to say that because of the number it doesn’t mean that men aren’t suffering from mental health issues. What happens is that women are the majority who search for therapy; the ones that feel comfortable talking about how they feel. For many men, the idea of going in a therapy session and talking about how they feel will make them weak, when is actually the opposite.
What advice can you give to our readers?
Definitely therapy, but I know not everyone has access to it right now so to anyone who has internet I can recommend trying meditation. It might be difficult in the beginning but it will help. Videos that lead to a meditative state or self-hypnosis are a great help. You can try some self-care sessions, doing things that make you feel good, take some minutes of the day to take a deep breath and try to think about some things you are grateful for. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. We’re living in an atypical scenery and you don’t need to keep the same loop you had before it. These are some tips for everyone and remember: it’s ok to not feel ok some days. Things will get better, and if you feel you need help, don’t be ashamed to look for it!
You can call Mind on 0300 123 3393 for free, over the phone, mental health support