A new study conducted by the University of Manchester, has found that some people's mental health might have benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A sense of relief
Contrary to other research reporting the deteriorating mental conditions triggered primarily by the loneliness experienced during lockdown, this new study says that those who were already struggling with depression experienced what is being referred to as 'lockdown relief.'
Dr. Natasha Bijlani, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory clinic in Roehamptom, explains that:
As humans we usually thrive on social connection for our mental health and sense of wellbeing. 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.
Essentially, for those afflicted with depression, being able to self isolate and avoid uncomfortable social situations that are imposed onto them on a daily basis, such as having to engage in courteous conversation—or small talk— can actually relieve their symptoms. She goes on to say:
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.
Less FOMO, better mental health
Another reason why our mental health might have benefited from the pandemic can be rooted down to a lack of sense of fear of missing out (FOMO). When no one in your immediate or extended circle has anything to show for on social media, then we feel like we are missing out on a lot less fun.
To some extent, mutual isolation has also brought forth a sense of camaraderie. Dr Elena Touroni, co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic says:
Depression can make us feel very alone. When people around us are out and about having fun, it can heighten this. In lockdown, we were all in the same position. You could say there was a clear, identifiable reason why we might be feeling low. This can provide a sense of relief for those struggling in normal times.