Ask a Therapist: How Can I Deal With My Depression After the Pandemic?

Everyone else seems to be feeling better, but I don't.

Ask a therapist

Verywell / Catherine Song

In the “Ask a Therapist” series, I’ll be answering your questions about all things mental health and psychology. Whether you are struggling with a mental health condition, coping with anxiety about a life situation, or simply looking for a therapist's insight, submit a question. Look out for my answers to your questions every Friday in the Healthy Mind newsletter.

Our Reader Asks

I am tired of hearing everyone else say they feel better now that the pandemic is ending. I had depression and anxiety before COVID-19 and my mental health problems are likely to stick around after. What can I do?

—Matt, 36

Amy’s Answer

You’re not alone in feeling this way. While it’s true that some people are feeling better now that restrictions are lifting, other people are feeling worse than usual. While you can’t make your depression and anxiety disappear with the virus, you can keep working on yourself.

Mental Health and the Pandemic

The pandemic reduced some of the stigma surrounding mental health issues. As celebrities, influencers, and icons stepped forward to share some of the struggles they were experiencing during lockdown, it became clear that no one is immune to mental illness.

But, many of those same people are now returning to their everyday lives and their psychological well-being is improving.

I’m hopeful that conversations about mental health are going to stick around even though the world is returning to normal.

For individuals who struggled with mental illness long before COVID, watching other people move forward can be frustrating when you’re feeling stuck.

Even though you might think you’re the only one who is still feeling bad, you’re not. There are plenty of other people who are having a hard time right now, too. So just know you’re not alone.

Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares seven mental health mistakes to avoid after the pandemic.

Don’t Judge Your Feelings

Whether you’re feeling jealous of people who are feeling happy again or you’re angry that your mental health isn’t getting better, whatever you feel right now is OK.

Try not to be too hard on yourself for those emotions. Telling yourself you shouldn’t feel a certain way will only make you feel worse.

Instead, name your feelings. Just putting a label on them can help your brain make more sense of what’s going on. And that might even make you feel a little better.

Get Ongoing Support

You don’t mention how you’re being treated for your anxiety and depression. Do you see a therapist? Are you taking medication? Do you attend a support group?

Make sure you’re working on a solid treatment plan with professionals you trust. If you aren’t getting any treatment, talk to your physician. Your doctor can refer you to mental health professionals who can assist you.

That’s not to say treatment is going to magically make you feel better. But it can be a step in the right direction.

Of course, if you’re already working with a therapist, your physician, or a psychiatrist, make sure to talk to them about how you’re feeling in relation to the pandemic. It’s important for them to know how this is affecting you.

Talk to Other People

Of course, it’s not just the professionals who can assist you right now. Talking to trusted friends and family members might help too.

You might find that some of them are feeling the exact same way as you. They just might be hesitant to bring it up first.

You might find solace in a support group. There are plenty of online groups for individuals with anxiety and depression. if you don’t feel comfortable going to one in person. Others who have a history of depression and anxiety may know exactly what you’re going through.

Limit Your Time on Social Media

If you’re seeing a lot of people celebrating the pandemic restrictions being lifted on social media, limit who you follow and how much time you spend scrolling through social media.

Don’t be afraid to use the mute function either. If seeing friends going on vacation or hearing about how happy your family members are now that they’re getting together again doesn’t make you feel good, don’t look at it.

Whether you like following mental health accounts that offer actionable tips, or you enjoy keeping tabs on your favorite actor, follow accounts that inspire you to feel your best right now.

Think of Mental Health as an Ongoing Marathon, Not a Sprint

Improving your mental health isn’t a race. There’s no prize for feeling better the fastest. And although you’ll feel better when your mental health improves, trying to rush it will backfire.

It’s also not a competition. 

Mental health is like sunshine. There’s plenty to go around for everyone and someone else’s happiness won’t take anything away from you. 

Managing your mental health is an ongoing process. Think of it more like a marathon rather than a sprint. Even when you’re feeling better, self-care is key to keeping your symptoms at bay. 

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