LISTEN | How to fight anxiety and depression caused by the lockdown

06 April 2020 - 16:51 By Modiegi Mashamaite and Andisiwe Michelle May
Dr Colinda Linde says isolation even for a short time can lead to increased anxiety and depression.
Dr Colinda Linde says isolation even for a short time can lead to increased anxiety and depression.
Image: 123RF / 9nong

“The 21-day lockdown may sound like a short time but for some isolation can lead to increased anxiety and depression,” says clinical psychologist and board member of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, Dr Colinda Linde.

She says anxiety will continue to increase as the fight against Covid-19 goes on, because this is a situation the world has never faced before.

“In any situation where there are lots of unknowns and uncertainties, very little control, no clear end in sight, and high levels of threat, stress levels will increase,” she said.

With many South Africans spending time at home as a physical distancing measure to curb the spread of the virus, Linde says every individual will have different coping mechanisms.

Some will be in a state of denial, where they convince themselves that the pandemic will be over soon and things will go back to normal as they count down to the end of the lockdown.

“I really worry about this because the day that lockdown ends, things aren't suddenly going to be normal. This is one of the ways we set ourselves up for anxiety and stress,” she said.

And then there is comfort eating and binge TV watching and constantly being on social media. This is fine but it can also become a problem in its own right.


While comfort may be what most South Africans have leant towards during the lockdown, Linde says it may become a bad coping mechanism.

While the lockdown presents an opportunity for people to take control of their thoughts and mental health, it might increase anxiety and depression for those who are already battling mental-health issues.

Refilwe Maake, a salon owner from Tembisa, says she does not know what her children will eat for the remainder of the lockdown, as the only income she had was from the salon.

“I am very worried because I can't even go outside to braid people's hair so I can make money to take care of my children. I don't know what they are going to eat,” she said.

Thapelo Dinaka echoed Maake's sentiments, saying  he is worried that he is falling behind at school because he does not have the resources to study online and complete his assignments.

“I ask my friends to help me where they can and I sometimes borrow my neighbour's laptop, but I am scared that the police might catch me while `I go to fetch or drop if off,” he said.

As more and more people call in and report incidents of anxiety, Linde advises people to find out about the virus and how it is transmitted, saying that  relying on credible sources of information will put minds at ease about the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic.