The past year has been nothing but challenges. What made it difficult was our isolation from each other. And with isolation came the hidden plight of sadness and depression.
It’s funny to think that in an age where everything, not just everyone, is connected via the internet, we still feel lonely. But where do you draw the line between depression and sadness?
In this article, we’re going to talk about how depression affects your body, and how it can possibly decreases the likelihood of surviving a COVID infection.
Depression is not just in the mind. People who aren’t familiar with this disability think that it’s just a mindset. It’s been established that an imbalance in the brain can cause production of hormones that directly affect how your body performs and how you think.
One of the hormones that play an important factor in your general feeling of wellbeing is serotonin. It’s a chemical that can be described as the happy hormone. Under-production of serotonin leads to feelings of sadness and sustained periods of decreased serotonin is linked to the development of depression.
There are people who are diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Although there are no established studies yet, people who have SAD are affected directly by the amount of sunlight they are exposed to, and the pandemic has caused more individuals to stay in their rooms. The lack of natural light leads to the development of this illness.
So how exactly does depression increase your likelihood of contracting the COVID19?
Our happy hormone has several effects on the body, one of which involves movement. Increased serotonin in the brain is a cause and effect of increased activity. What this means is that exercising increases your serotonin levels, and low serotonin levels cause you to be demotivated to exercise. With the pandemic closing gyms and forcing everyone to “Netflix and Chill”, there’s a guaranteed drop of serotonin in many individuals.
It’s a domino effect from this point on: the decreased serotonin will make individuals less active, and with nothing to do but live the life of a couch potato, there will be changes to the diet. People will have no control of the amount of carbs they can eat, and blood glucose levels increase. In response to the increased blood sugar, the body has to produce insulin – a hormone that let’s your body use glucose. When the body detects there’s too much insulin in the blood even after the glucose has been used up, it will release cortisol.
Cortisol is one of the most important hormones related to your body’s defense system. Our immune system is inhibited by the presence of cortisol in the blood stream. Our immune system also manages how our body heals, and in a diabetic person, wounds heal longer due to a malfunctioning immune system.
Most depressed people will stay in bed longer than necessary. A research done in Swansea University revealed that sleeping too long contributes to weaker lungs. It has been in the news for a while now: people with weak lungs will have less chances of recovering from a COVID infection. It was also noted in the study that sleeping too long will decrease cardiovascular function meaning your heart will have more difficulty pumping blood through your body. If this was the case, even people with good lungs will have a longer time recovering from COVID.
To explain how poor blood circulation directly affects the rate of recovery from a COVID infection (or any other infection for that matter), we start with understanding how the body combats infection.
Every once in a while you get a bout of flu. Your nose becomes runny, your throat hurts, you feel weak all over, and you’re running a fever. A fever is your body’s way of destroying a virus or bacteria. Most pathogens die if the body temperature is above average. Sometimes, if the fever gets too high, a Paracetamol bought from your local Costco or Sam’s Club pharmacy should help lower the body temperature. This is very important as febrile temperatures can cause seizures if not managed.
Your nose also becomes noticeably red. This is due to an increased blood supply to areas where there are increased numbers of the infective agent. That’s why your throat also becomes veiny and reddish. It helps deliver the combative white blood cells to fend off the infection.
Depression affects the rate at which blood is pumped across the body. If you have a COVID infection and you’ve been inactive for years prior to the infection, you will have less chances of recovering simply because your body can’t deliver the cellular fighters to the site of infection.
If you think you have depression, contact a psychiatrist for the medications that can help you. If you need help with your will to get yourself better, a counselor can also be an option.