COVID’S Impact: Is Depression Sneaking into your New Routines?


By Jessica O’Neill, MSW, LCSW, SouthLight Adult Outpatient Counselor 

It has been nearly two years in this new reality of social distancing, quarantine, and isolation due to COVID-19. We’re all feeling the effects.  

The gravity and longevity of COVID and the impact on our society is really settling in. Did anyone else feel like working from home was going to last a month or two? Now with 55% of the working population working from home at least part time it seems like this is a shift in the workforce that is here to stay.  

Although working from home has its benefits, there are the consequences of decreased social interaction and time outside that comes with it. There has been an increase in depression and individuals seeking mental health therapy during the past two years. Is COVID causing depression or is it just correlation? 

There has been an increase in depression and individuals seeking mental health therapy during the past two years. Is COVID causing depression or is it just correlation?

Signs of Depression 

Depression has a variety of symptoms, many of which overlap with increased isolation, being in quarantine, working from home and following COVID guidelines. Have you noticed any of these changes?  

These symptoms could mean that you’re experiencing depression, and not just the COVID blues.  

We have lost some of the novelty and enthusiasm behind playing games or watching entertainment with our friends. We’ve become more accepting of our shrinking social bubble. With fewer opportunities for connection, playfulness, and flow, symptoms of depression could be sneaking into our new routines.  

Languishing, Flourishing, and Fun 

The New York Times article, “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing,” defines languishing as a feeling of stagnation and emptiness.  

Languishing is the space between depression and flourishing. Languishing is distinct from burnout because we still have energy and it’s unique from depression because we still have hope. We may be feeling more aimless and unsure of what the future holds for us with COVID. We also can be struggling with a loss of control with quarantine and mask mandates controlling some of our actions.  

Sociologist Corey Keyes suggests with his research that languishing is a predictor of depression and anxiety disorders in the future. How do we address and correct languishing? I’m glad you asked.  

Flourishing is the opposite of depression. It is defined as having a strong sense of purpose, effectiveness, and connection with others.

Flourishing is the opposite of depression. It is defined as having a strong sense of purpose, effectiveness, and connection with others. As humans, we often feel fulfilled when we have a sense of meaning and feel that we’re working towards that.  

Feeling Alive and Having Fun Again 

COVID has created some confusion about our sense of meaning and purpose, and it’s certainly created a barrier to connecting with others and for some, having fun and feeling fulfilled again.  

Fun can be simple and elusive for adults. Catherine Price writes about “True Fun” in her new book, The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again. Price has found True Fun to include connection, flow, and playfulness. Flow is the state when we are so present and immersed in our current activity that we lose our sense of time, place, and self. Check out her website to see more about our fun factors and creating more space for fun in your life. 

Resources and Support 

So, are you flourishing or languishing? Do you wonder if the situation brought about by the pandemic has triggered depression for you?  

Talking to a therapist can help you determine what you’re experiencing and how to move forward. I believe everyone can benefit from therapy. A therapist is not only trained to listen and provide support around coping skills and mental health, but they are someone who is in your life solely for you, and whose only purpose is to help you achieve the goals you want.  

If you’re feeling like you need some help, check out some mental health and substance use resources here. Or call 919-787-6131 to learn more about our services and schedule an assessment.  

About SouthLight Healthcare:

Founded in 1970, SouthLight Healthcare is one of the area’s largest nonprofit providers of substance use treatment and mental health services. SouthLight partners with individuals and communities to provide innovative treatment solutions delivered with compassion and dignity. With outpatient and community-based programs, SouthLight provides prevention, education, and treatment services in the Triangle and beyond. Call 919-787-6131 for help or more information or visit