Bonn Experts fear that the corona crisis will lead to more mental illness and suicides among depressed people. Here we have complied what helps those affected. If you are one of those who is not feeling good or if you are in distress, do not hesitate to seek help – there are many people out there who are ready to talk to you and help you get through this difficult time.
Contact ban, quarantine, home office in a confined space with the family: The corona crisis is stressful for everyone, and no one can really estimate how long the restrictions will last. The mental health of citizens is at risk, warns Iris Hauth, member of the board of the German Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Psychosomatics and Neurology. "Persistent feelings of insecurity, fear and isolation create stress and are a risk factor for healthy people," the medical director of the Alexian St. Joseph Clinic in Berlin tells our editorial staff.
Possible consequences: Sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, depressive feelings. The specialist for psychiatry and psychotherapy also expects a new challenge for her department: "Former severely affected corona patients, doctors and nursing staff may be traumatised during and after the crisis“.
Mental illnesses might worsen
According to Hauth, the condition of people who are already mentally ill could also deteriorate. According to studies, ten million people in Germany suffer from an anxiety disorder in the course of one year. More than five million people suffer from depression. Approximately one million patients experience a psychosis once in their life. "In the therapies we work on patients actively shaping their daily structure and going among people," said Hauth.
In the corona crisis, many patients are now isolated and feel lonely. Another problem is that many care services are no longer available. Psychiatric clinics are postponing planned treatments in order to be able to provide care for people in acute crisis. Anyone who has been planning a hospital stay for a long time may therefore have to wait. Day clinics are also reducing their services.
"The quality of care is going down right now"
The German Depression Aid Foundation fears an increase in suicides if depressed patients are not adequately cared for in the corona crisis. "The quality of care is currently going downhill," says Professor Ulrich Hegerl, chairman of the German Depression Relief Foundation. "This could cost lives. The number of suicides could rise." Depression is the cause of most suicides every year. "Due to the disease-related lack of interest and drive, it is very difficult to structure the day, with the possible consequence that the affected persons lie in bed brooding during the day," says Hegerl.
Healthy people are less at risk
He does not believe that the corona crisis causes depression in healthy people. "Depression is an independent, often life-threatening illness, which is less the result of difficult life circumstances than many believe." The German Depression Relief Association (Deutsche Depressionshilfe) recommends affected persons to remain active during periods of domestic quarantine and to maintain a daily rhythm. Sleep times should not be extended, because too much sleep can increase the severity of depression.
Visits to a psychotherapeutic practice are still possible. The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians and the statutory health insurance companies have allowed access for video consultation hours until the end of June. This means that therapies can continue even if the therapist and the patient are in quarantine. Even the search for a therapy place does not have to be unsuccessful: recently, therapists have also been allowed to conduct initial consultations by video call.
Digital services such as professionally moderated online forums can also help. In response to the crisis, Depression Relief has activated access to "iFightdepression" for six weeks. The free self-management program usually requires the assistance of a doctor. It is suitable for people aged 15 and over with mild forms of depression. Interested parties can register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is help here for you or somebody you love or know - and you can also call them if you hear people in the neighborhood are in a bad place, mentally (or physically):
- If you feel you are in distress, or if you are emotional and/or suicidal, please DO NOT HESITATE to reach out. The telephone counselling care can be reached at 0800 111 0111 or 0800 111 0222.
- At the „Nummer gegen Kummer“, children, young people and parents all over Germany can get advice, help, comfort and support. Advice is available on 116 111 and by e-mail/chat. Mothers, fathers or grandparents and other educators can also call 0800 - 111 0 550 for qualified advice on all questions, problems and in particularly critical situations. If necessary they open the way to further help. More information is available at www.nummergegenkummer.de.
- Help is available anonymously and free of charge from the "Gewalt gegen Frauen" help line on 08000 116 016, and interpreters make it possible to receive advice in many languages.
(Original text: Lea Hensen / Translation: Mareike Graepel)