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Dealing with depression during the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 6:36 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 11:56:35-05

TULSA, Okla. — The coronavirus has killed 323,000 Americans and taken the lives of more than 2,000 Oklahomans. The life-threatening virus is also taking a psychological toll on those with mental distress.

READ MORE: Coronavirus cases reported in Oklahoma

"This is something bad that is happening, but bad things are going to happen throughout your life," Barbara Hathcock, a suicide survivor, said.

Isolation, job loss, and death are all triggers for psychological trauma.

"All the physical health aspects and wellness from this COVID was the first wave and now that we're sort of developing these vaccines, the second wave or the echo pandemic is in mental health," said Samantha Knowlton with Counseling & Recovery Services of Oklahoma.

Knowlton told 2 Works for You her organization is taking 15,000 crisis calls per month — up 9,000 since the first days of coronavirus.

"When you're already depressed and anxious and you're living in a world that feels unsafe, you don't really get a break," said Matthew Crum, director of Counseling & Recovery Service's CALM Center.

Hathcock is wading through that world surviving for as long as she can remember.

"My son was in total denial," Hathcock said. "He went from straight A's, you know, all the classic symptoms...changing friends, your grades drop, your smile has gone...what has happened?"

Her son, Keith, battled anxiety as a teenager. He stored his suffering inside and kept it secluded from those who loved him most.

"He just taped himself together and kept going for as long as he could...and then at 18 he had a suicide attempt," Hathcock said. "He tried to take a whole bunch of pills."

Over the years, Hathcock said her only boy wrestled with clinical depression.

"It was obvious he was struggling, but he would not share that no matter how we tried," she said.

Until one morning three years ago, while his wife was at church, Hathcock said her son decided it was time.

"He had made several attempts in the past and they were not successful, and I think he made very sure that nothing was going to stop him this time," Hathcock said.

The path to acceptance and understanding on the trail of tragedy is not a short or straight one for her. Hathcock said it is not that way for anyone.

For Hathcock, it is a daily duel with depression that with determination she is destined to win.

Hathcock suggests staying in contact with loved ones, or the ones people have lost, in order to deal with depression during the pandemic.

Crums said it is best to talk about anxiety and depression rather than holding negative feelings in.

For immediate help or a resource to discuss mental health issues, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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