Michelle Obama said this week that she was experiencing “low-grade depression” and seemed to suggest that it was because of a combination of quarantine, racial unrest and the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.
In the second episode of her new podcast, which was released on Wednesday, Mrs. Obama, the former first lady, told the Washington Post columnist Michele Norris that she has had low points recently.
“There have been periods throughout this quarantine where I just have felt too low,” Mrs. Obama said, adding that her sleep was off. “You know, I’ve gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don’t feel yourself.”
“I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression,” she added. “Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting.”
She suggested that her depression was related to the ongoing protests and racial unrest around the United States since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May.
“I have to say, that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to yet another story of a Black man or a Black person somehow being dehumanized or hurt or killed, or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting,” she said. “It has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life — in, in a while.”
Mrs. Obama said she had benefited from keeping a routine, including exercise, getting fresh air and having a regular dinner time.
The psychological effects of the pandemic are not yet fully clear. But the World Health Organization warned in May of a “massive increase in mental health conditions in the coming months,” fueled by anxiety and isolation as well as by the fear of contagion and the deaths of relatives and friends.
A survey conducted in June by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than 30 percent of adults in the United States were reporting symptoms consistent with anxiety or depression since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Depression is an illness that affects more than 264 million people worldwide, according to the W.H.O. Dr. Timothy Sullivan, the psychiatry and behavioral sciences chairman at Staten Island University Hospital, described it as a complicated mental state.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 6, 2020
Why are bars linked to outbreaks?
- Think about a bar. Alcohol is flowing. It can be loud, but it’s definitely intimate, and you often need to lean in close to hear your friend. And strangers have way, way fewer reservations about coming up to people in a bar. That’s sort of the point of a bar. Feeling good and close to strangers. It’s no surprise, then, that bars have been linked to outbreaks in several states. Louisiana health officials have tied at least 100 coronavirus cases to bars in the Tigerland nightlife district in Baton Rouge. Minnesota has traced 328 recent cases to bars across the state. In Idaho, health officials shut down bars in Ada County after reporting clusters of infections among young adults who had visited several bars in downtown Boise. Governors in California, Texas and Arizona, where coronavirus cases are soaring, have ordered hundreds of newly reopened bars to shut down. Less than two weeks after Colorado’s bars reopened at limited capacity, Gov. Jared Polis ordered them to close.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
“Depending on how it’s defined, anyone, particularly at a time like this, could be experiencing some of the symptoms,” Dr. Sullivan said, including trouble sleeping and low energy.
Depression is a result of individual biological risk factors coupled with influences in the environment, Dr. Sullivan said. “When someone experiences a loss, we know that it can make them sad,” he said, citing one example. “But if that loss also causes them to change fundamental routines that are important to their health, that’s going to create an additional risk factor.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, he said, “we’ve learned that when people experience significant disruptions in their daily routines, those disruptions can predispose people to depression.”
Asked how the news could affect a person’s mood or battle with depression, Dr. Sullivan said: “I think the main risk with news events is that people tend to ruminate about them. We know that when people ruminate, it increases feelings of helplessness and, in some cases, hopelessness, and that mental state does worsen mood and increases risk of depression.”
Dr. Sullivan said that if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of depression, you should review your daily routines and try to establish healthy patterns, including managing sleep, eating at regular times of the day, exercising and having meaningful social interactions early in the morning, if possible.
Source : New York Times