Lockdown has had a catastrophic impact on so many aspects of our lives, not least in terms of mental health.
For some, depression has been triggered or exacerbated by worries — a study this year by Exeter University and King’s College London found loneliness emerging as a key factor linked to worsening symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Mental health charity Mind has also revealed half of adults felt their general wellbeing worsened in 2020, with many experiencing mental health problems for the first time.
Yet in the midst of such bleak statistics, a counter-narrative has emerged. It seems that depression has, for some, become more manageable.
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Lockdown has had a catastrophic impact on so many aspects of our lives, not least in terms of mental health
Known as ‘lockdown relief’, it appears for some people an enforced break from normal routine and stresses has been a help.
A study by Manchester University on the number of people seeking mental health help for the first time found that during the first lockdown, the figures for depression dropped by 43 per cent, and for anxiety by 48 per cent, compared with similar periods over the previous ten years.
While this could reflect reduced access to mental health services, the researchers said they couldn’t rule out that rates of mental illness were lower.
‘As humans we usually thrive on social connection for our mental health and sense of wellbeing,’ says Dr Natasha Bijlani, a consultant psychiatrist at The Priory clinic in Roehampton.
‘But for some people, the lack of contact has meant they don’t feel as stressed and exposed to those aspects of ordinary life that the rest of us take for granted but which affect their situation.
Known as ‘lockdown relief’, it appears for some people an enforced break from normal routine and stresses has been a help. People are seen in Trafalgar Sqaure, London in May 2020
‘When you’re in a state of depression any contact with people can be stressful for some. But in lockdown, you can filter away from all that. So symptoms can be easier to manage.’