Every day at some unexpected moment, a huge wave of sadness engulfs me wanting to overthrow all the positivity that I try to gather like a destructive demonic force. As a therapist I questioned if this unexpected occurrence could classify as clinical depression. Traditionally it did not but appeared more as sadness amplified by the shared experience of the entire world due to the current situation.

Ever since coronavirus crept up on us silently and cruelly changed our lives, perhaps forever, I have been having a pretty productive time. My work keeps me driven and somehow the lockdown did not take me down. I felt it was mostly acceptance and a small degree of denial that kept me going.

But since recently these varied emotions knock me down, emotions of grief, anger and bargaining with the higher power for compensation of this loss of what we considered normal life. I asked myself, am I going through the five stages of bereavement that include all these five emotions in no particular order.

Why I choose to share this is that many of us might be experiencing similar emotions and primarily that of sadness. But what is very important to understand and keep a close eye on is when this sadness might turn into clinical depression.

These extraordinary times we are going through cannot be taken lightly. I cannot emphasise enough on how important it is to take care of our mental health during this time. When a traumatic event triggers a human being, the body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to respond to it via a flight, fight or freeze mode. After the event is over, the body goes in a state of homeostasis. But individuals who go through chronic trauma or stress start retaining excessive cortisol in their bodies due to constantly being triggered by the trauma and in a hyperactive state.

Excessive residue of cortisol is one of the precipitating factors for clinical depression. Currently we are all being triggered again and again by stress, be it physical un-safety, economic or the general state of uncertainty. Also understand that the brain cannot differentiate between real and imaginary threat. So even the news of someone our age, dying of corona – which is relatable – can affect us as badly as contracting it ourselves.

So more than any other time, pay close attention to your mental health. Like mentioned before, all of us might be feeling anger and sadness for this cruel 2020 but if these feelings start lasting for longer periods of time and stop you from leading a normal functional life, it is crucial to get an assessment.

Some of the classical symptoms of clinical depression are overeating or loss of appetite, insomnia or too much sleeping, irritability, loss of interest in daily lives or feeling like staying in bed all day. Inability to pay attention, restlessness, forgetfulness, physical aches and pains that don’t go away, gastric issues, loss of libido and most importantly chronic feelings of guilt, immense sadness and emptiness that doesn’t go away and thoughts of self-harming.

Anyone of you reading this and going through this, read carefully. This probably feels like the darkest hour of your life as you struggle through all these overwhelming emotions, locked internally in your heart and mind and not having the strength to reach out to anyone. You are probably judging this state as you look at external factors and ticking boxes that all indicate towards no bias for complain or ungratefulness. Probably the words of your parents or a spouse, ring in your head again and again, telling you to be grateful.

Maybe you have never shared the burden of a wound like child abuse, a broken heart, the pain of being invisible all your life and the pain now engulfs you and life is no longer able to distract you.

The most important thing to remember is that this depression is happening for you. It’s here for a reason! It’s high time you demand the right support that you deserve and require. There is shame around asking for it isn’t it? You fear being judged. But when the shame stops us from reaching out, it is important to remember that this depression is an illness and needs be acknowledged.

Seek support immediately and preferably start with a therapist who can evaluate the situation. In my line of work, many clients have resolved depression without medication as understanding what makes the person arrive at this place is essential. The therapist can then suggest if medication is required.

Sometimes a trigger brings out repressed pain in human beings and it gets presented in the form of anxiety or depression. Allow yourself to accept this state of sadness, to be weak and challenge that misleading ‘Stay Strong’ voice and ask for help.