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Michelle Obama Has Felt 'Low-Grade Depression' During COVID-19 Pandemic

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What happened: Former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke out this week about experiencing “low-grade depression” amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Obama explained on “The Michelle Obama Podcast” that she’s been through very low points during the last few months as the world grapples with the outbreak and strict social distancing guidelines. She added that recent “racial strife” and the day-to-day of President Trump’s administration has exacerbated her emotions.

This change can be a lot and it can feel heavy and the thing is we are left to deal with this stuff at a moment when we’re forced to spend more time alone, more time in our own heads than we are used to. Dealing with all of this change we are experiencing isn’t always easy and it is not always comfortable but what I’ve learned is that this kind of solitude can be revealing, almost healing. — Michelle Obama, “The Michelle Obama Podcast”

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We’ve all been dealing with a lot of change in our lives and our communities. We’ve experienced the shock—and the aftershocks—of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. And all this is happening amid this life-altering pandemic, which has upended so much of life as we’ve always understood it. All this change can feel pretty heavy—and we’re often left to deal with it at a moment when we’re forced to spend more time alone—more time in our own heads—than we’re used to. I couldn’t think of anyone better to talk about all of this with than my friend and confidante, @michele__norris. In the next episode of The #MichelleObamaPodcast, we're talking about life during this strange and exhausting time. You can listen to our conversation now on @Spotify—link in my bio.

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The Frontlines: The United States leads the world in both the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths. More than 4.8 million people have tested positive and it’s a number that continues to grow. Many states have had to roll back social distancing guidelines as cases surge again — forcing many Americans into solitude once more. A necessary measure, but one that is starting to take a toll on the nation’s mental health.

  • Some experts fear that isolation will further heighten America’s existing loneliness epidemic. At least 37.5 million currently live alone.
  • Some people with disabilities are being further isolated by the pandemic, and are spending more time alone than those without disabilities.
  • Front-line workers are also at an increased risk of mental health concerns. One Chinese study showed about half of doctors responding to the pandemic reported depression.

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A Mighty Voice: Our contributor J.R. Reed shared what it’s like to struggle with loneliness amid a pandemic, saying, “I’m getting scared about the state of my mental health over the past days. Now I can see clearly what it’s like for adults on the spectrum, adults with other disabilities and mental health issues, as well as people in general who have been sheltered this whole six or seven weeks by themselves. It’s straight-up scary.” You can submit your first person story, too.

Add your voice:

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Navigating Coronavirus Together group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Want to connect with others who are managing their health during the pandemic? Join Navigating Coronavirus Together now. Click to join.

Other things to know: The Mighty’s contributors are sharing how they’re coping with the pandemic and some said it’s actually been a good time for reflection. Here’s some more insight:

How to take action: You can listen to Michelle Obama’s podcast on Spotify  and learn more about coping with mental health impacts of COVID-19 here.

Header image via Michelle Obama/Instagram

Originally published: August 6, 2020
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