Beauty magazines can increase our body image problems

The body image dimension of social fear is strongly affected by culture. Because of the fear, you are vulnerable to how some modern magazines portray the ideal in terms of physical beauty. Such magazines are a powerful trigger to make you conscious of physical defects. The so-called beauty industry is colossal, and an increasing number of people, male and female, are being seduced by it. If you have good self-esteem you will not be swayed by the proclaimed ideal of physical beauty. You will be comfortable in your skin, even if it is wrinkled with age! If you define yourself in terms of physical beauty, you will ultimately be haunted by a sense of failure. This may sound ludicrous, but do not underestimate the power of cultural aspirations, which can make you feel flawed. Cultural views on physical beauty is just another way of being shamed, as you compare yourself to beautiful females and handsome males adorning the pages of these magazines. You may have thoughts like ‘I am ugly, my hair is falling out and she will think I’m unattractive, my ears are too big, my nose is too long, or I’m not good looking enough for her, I’m too fat, I’m too thin, ‘I’m too small, I’m too tall’ and a whole myriad of other supposed imperfections. The lesson is to deal with the underlying cause of not feeling good enough.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
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I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

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The psychological feeling of defectiveness can translate into body image problems

In the previous blog I mentioned body image problems. Randy and Lori Sansone in their article, Body Image, have come up with an enlightened explanation of body image issues. They suspect that negativity tends to be concretized on a body level in shamed children. In other words psychological negativity is converted into a physical one. Generally they are unaware of body image as children, but become conscious of it in teenage years and bring this shame and negativity into adulthood, where the so called physical defects rivet their attention and fits perfectly with their low self-worth. The magnifying glass sees every defective speck in their bodily make up, and the mirror becomes the gauge of their self-esteem. For some individuals body image is pathological and is known as dysmorphophobia i.e. a fear that one’s body is repulsive. This affects up to 2.4 percent of the population and is classed as a psychiatric complaint. I have met some handsome people who feel this way about their imagined ugliness. In many cases some of these turn to the plastic surgeon. Unfortunately, because body image has a psychological dimension, they continue to return for surgery in what is a distressing grindstone.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
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I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

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Body image problems can be part of social fear (bred by attachment issues)

While social fear is a silent and invisible saboteur, albeit with obvious anxiety symptoms, the negative thinking that drives it is very often translated into obsession with body image. You are conscious about how you look, blame yourself for these so-called imperfections, and become distracted, while others are oblivious to such supposed defects. A negative view of body image can affect how you interact with others, especially members of the opposite sex. Even if you have a defect, you exaggerate it out of all proportion and focus relentlessly on it. Jason, for example, was constantly aware of his hair, and felt distressed that he would go bald. This increased his pre-existing fear of forming intimate relationships.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
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DEATH OF A CHILD
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I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

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Social fear is a constant destructive presence

Essentially, therefore, social fear is about oversensitivity of being judged, criticized or rejected by others; being acutely self-conscious and feeling embarrassed or humiliated. Barbara Markway, a psychologist in Jefferson City and an expert on social fear, makes the interesting point that people with social fear not only dread disapproval, but exaggerate the threat of criticism. Negative thinking, therefore, always tends towards exaggeration and the expectation of blame. It is allied to catastrophization (catastrophic thinking), a term coined by Aaron Beck, one of the founders of cognitive therapy.
This mindset means that even before you meet a group of strangers or attend a social occasion you are already internally embarrassed and crippled by your own negative self-appraisal. You sabotage yourself and are defeated before you set out. Social fear is all about yourself with an intense and paralysing internal focus and hypersensitivity to anticipated scrutiny by others. You imagine that they can see the false self with all its imperfections of shame, anger, low self-esteem and, above all, being boring. Almost every person I have met with social fear felt they were boring and uninteresting in the company of other people. The focus also shifts to physical manifestations of fear and anxiety, sometimes including sweating, blushing and stammering. Thinking about them is a trigger that will bring them on. All those defects that were planted in you during your childhood stand starkly in your mind, and this brainwashing paralyses you in many aspects of your life, and especially when interacting with others. It is about not being comfortable in your skin, ruminating about letting yourself down in front of others and being oversensitive about yourself.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
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COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
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I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

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Social anxiety destroys your life

Jason was mistaken if he thought that his fear would depart when he began working. It intensified and destroyed any attempt at happiness.

“I would do my work to a high standard but I would lunch by myself, in a place away from work where my colleagues wouldn’t see me. I was on a very busy team so people didn’t go to lunch together. I asked one of the lads one day to go to lunch, but he told me he didn’t have time. Instead of taking this as the truth, I thought it was my fault and he just didn’t want to have lunch with me. I questioned myself and the rejection made me put up my guard. I wouldn’t be asking again. There was another group of lads on another work team. They were friendly and sporty and liked the banter. This is the kind of group I would have got on well with. But I wasn’t brave enough to ask if I could join them. The fear of being judged, ‘the look at this loner’ thoughts that was going round in my head, meant I never made the effort with them. College was happening all over again. I’d have a few scenarios were I’d have a laugh with them, but I wouldn’t be able join them the next day for lunch or stop for a chat. If circumstances had been different I could have been on this team. They would have invited the newbie to lunch and I could have made some really good friends. Instead, I was left to go to lunch on my own in a restaurant up the road that I was familiar with from my college days. I was nearly 2 years working in the office before I could venture into the canteen. I had the feeling that all eyes from the office would be on me as I queued for my food. The thoughts of being in a queue having to make conversation with one of my work colleagues, especially those in higher positions, made me blush and sweat. This irrational fear meant I never went to the canteen. Work was really intense and some days I didn’t have time to go to the restaurant across the way, so instead of grabbing something quick in the canteen, I would eat nothing. On bad days, I could arrive home from work around 8 in the evening and not have eaten since 7 that morning. At the time I didn’t notice anything crazy about my behaviour. As I write this, I can’t really believe how irrational my fears had made me. I thought this was all to do with college and I couldn’t see the signs that my fears had taken me over.”
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
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DEATH OF A CHILD
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ANGER
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I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

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Social anxiety is crippling.

In my case study, Jason’s main issue was social fear coming from fear of abandonment and an insecure attachment to his father. It was his main presenting issue. His narrative shows how utterly disabling it can be, how it encourages avoidance, interferes with normal functioning and interferes with self-care.

“By the time I had reached college, fear had, unknown to me, taken over my life. I did adequately in my Leaving Cert without ever reaching my full potential. The subject I was good at was English, as I had a teacher who took a keen interest in me and really pushed me. I did well in this subject, so it seemed logical to study this further in college. I accepted my place in University College Dublin, with just one other person from school doing the same degree. This was where my problems started. As my brother had gone to college before me, I decided, like him, that it would be a good idea to live with strangers and make new friends. My brother had made a great new group of friends, but unfortunately I only realise now, what was good for my brother might not make me happy. It was, without doubt, the loneliest time of my life. I made one new friend, Darren, out of 200 students following the course. I relied on him heavily and if he wasn’t going to lectures, there was no way I was. I just couldn’t handle the house.
There were three girls and two lads living in the house. They were all nice people and in particular the lads, who had many of the same interests as me. I just couldn’t put myself out there to spend time with them or to socialise with them. I would spend hours locked in my room. I couldn’t even muster the courage to urinate and would often do it in my sink. I was paralysed by the fear of meeting them and I suppose being judged. I never ate or cooked in the house and only very rarely watched television in the sitting room. I would usually only do this when there was nobody around. If I left early in the morning to go to college, I would slip out the door and hope nobody spotted me. I then would often spend hours wandering through the college, putting down time until it was dark and time to go to bed. This could often be as early as 6 o’ clock. I would lock myself in my room and read. Reading would keep my mind from thinking and I grew so dependent on it that I wouldn’t be able sleep without reading. Not even my love of rugby could help me. I was too afraid to try out playing even though I know I was better than some of the players on the team. These were lads with similar interests but I just couldn’t push myself to go to the trials. My only solace was my school friends. I would call down to my school friend, Jimmy, a lot, but as he was studying a different course, he was rarely around. I had friends across city in another college. This was my escape. I would throw some clothes into a bag and head for their place. I could spend days over there, missing huge amounts of college work. I felt comfortable with the lads I knew. We would head out drinking a few nights a week and this was my escape from my college worries. I was getting a bit of a reputation as the guy who loved going out, especially among the older lads from back home. I loved playing up this reputation and when they rang I couldn’t say no. I loved been seen as one of the boys and a ‘right lad,’ but deep down I was really struggling.”

Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
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COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
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I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

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Generalised and specific social anxiety

John R. Marshall, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCLA School of Medicine, is one of the pioneers in using medication to deal with social fear. In his book, Social Phobia. From Shyness to Stage Fright, he divides it into two categories, specific and generalised. Some people fear situations that may involve any type of criticism, including small everyday activities in the presence of others such as shopping, posting a letter, or dining in a café. I have met people who find going for a walk in an urban area a torture, because they feel conspicuous and exposed. They are acutely conscious that people are staring at them and commenting on them and they feel terrified and paralyzed as they walk with head bowed. Even shopping is torturous. They stand dumbly at the counter and are unable to make eye contact with the shop attendant and at the same time are intensely conscious of other shoppers. This hell is generalized social fear, since it pervades most areas of your life, where you strive to be more than human, where you are in the grip of perfectionism to avoid shame, where your boundaries are very defective as you strive to please everyone. You take in the feelings of other people very easily, and fear that the simplest of actions such as asking the price of some item will arouse their hostility and they will judge you as awkward. This generalized social fear is more crippling than the fear of specific circumstances.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
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ANGER
JEALOUSY
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I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

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Social anxiety.

In my last blog I looked at using a diary to address our thoughts, feelings and behavours in relation to fear of failure and how my own fear of failure was preventing me from applying for a particular job. Yet despite my fears, I found fulfilment in my life as a teacher, a principal and a counsellor. I believe that this was my destiny. In my training as a counsellor I had to undertake fifty hours of personal counselling. This changed my life in the most positive way possible. I regret how my fear prevented me from speaking at the Oireachtas and perhaps arousing the anger of others, but I have let that go. I have accepted that I once had a deep fear. Letting go of regret is important, because those with core fear live in a world of regret, a futile world, a negative place that they wallow in, where the words ‘if only’ predominates. I believe that all of us has a destiny, and it is up to you to find it and banish fear from your world.
I hope these extracts helped you to understand some aspects of fear of failure. Now I want to help you explore a most devastating fear, called social phobia or social anxiety.
Once known as the ‘neglected disorder,’ social fear is now seen as one of the most disabling conditions to beset human beings. There are widely varying statistics about how prevalent it is, but research shows that it affects up to twenty percent of people, making it one of the most common anxiety disorders. At some stage or another we all experience normal social fear. We are apprehensive when we have to make a speech, give a presentation, ask someone out for a date, sing a song or perform in some way in public. It is only when it becomes so distressing that it inhibits us from living happily and interferes with our life that it can be termed pathological and requires treatment.
Social fear is more formally known as social anxiety or social phobia, and is seen as an anxiety disorder that affects both men and women. Psychologists rightly distinguish between fear and anxiety. While they are distinct, they may overlap and the differences are well explained by the Swiss biochemist, Thierry Steimer, in his article ‘The Biology of fear-and anxiety-related behaviors.’ If you are interested in brain function this is an excellent article. Anxiety is a body sensation and has a large number of physical symptoms that arise at a possible or imagined threat. It is, therefore, a generalised response to an unknown danger. Fear is a primitive emotion in the face of real or immediate danger, or what is seen as a danger. Without fear, however, there would be no anxiety, although some psychologists argue that anxiety can be converted into fear. I think the opposite would be closer to the truth. I have never met anyone who had anxiety that was not accompanied by a silent and hidden fear.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
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DEATH OF A CHILD
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I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

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Keeping a fear and avoidance diary as a way of dealing with fear of failure

Today I am returning to my usual blog and hope you are all feeling relief and some form of freedom is returning to us to raise our spirits. There may be a negative aftermath to this, but some counselling will help erate that. I had been discussing fear of failure, a debilitating fear that prevents us for fulfilling our dreams. Using your gut helps you to avoid mistakes in what direction you should take in different circumstances, but it does not give you an insight into the extent of your fear of failure. One of the best ways to get an overall view of this is to keep a fear and avoidance diary. This should be as comprehensive as necessary, recording your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Let us take a brief example of how this might look in the context of the lecturing job I once avoided.
Thoughts
That would be a very attractive job. It is highly paid and I need the money badly now, with a large family and a big mortgage. I like history and lecturing does not carry a big workload. I’m also well qualified and am a good writer. I could easily write plenty of articles and a few books, perhaps. But, I would have to give up my profession which I really love. I would have to say good bye to that. I would have to move and sell the nice house I built. I like where I’m living. I like the countryside. I like the voluntary work I am doing. Worse still, I would have to leave all my friends. What would I do if I made a mess of this? After all some of these third-level students will be more intelligent than me. I might be a laughing stock.

Feelings
I feel a bit uneasy about this. I can feel this in the pit of my stomach. I feel worried that something will go wrong and I can feel some element of shame in my body. I am afraid, because I think this is too much. I feel angry that I am so stuck, because this would be a good opportunity for me career-wise. I feel angry that I am like this. What makes me like this? I feel like a child.
Behaviours
I can’t let this opportunity go. I’ll apply for the job, but I’ll outline the difficulties in my way. I’ll tell them that I want the job but I want to remain on here for another year to finish out my Leaving Certificate class.

I would clearly have seen from this diary how I sabotaged my future in the lecturing field. My initial thinking was positive, but then I buried it beneath a morass of negative and irrational thinking. The feelings coming from this thinking are clear – fear, anger and shame. The behaviour is one of subconscious avoidance, one of the most prominent saboteurs attached to fear. I would not have seen this at the time. Fear clouds clear thinking. Writing it down makes for clarity and good judgement.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
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ANGER
JEALOUSY
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I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

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Depression during covid 19 lockdown and aftermath

Depression is a very complex reality, but I will not look at it in all its complexity in such a short blog.
Depression is a painful feeling of ongoing sadness, low mood, no motivation and no sense of joy or happiness. It is a sense of being in a dark hole, powerless and helpless. When we are depressed, especially if it is extreme, we lose pleasure in everything, we feel tired all the time, we would prefer to stay in bed late, and doing small tasks can seem very difficult. It can also affect our appetite either by increasing or decreasing it. One of the most disheartening aspects of depression is a tendency to withdraw from other, being in an internal world of darkness and hopelessness. Sometimes it can make us angry as men, or in the case of women, tearful.
It also affects our thinking processes where concentrating can be difficult. Sometimes, especially with females it brings on rumination (asking questions that have no answer), so that we are on a treadmill of deadness. Sometimes in severe depression, the emotional pain is so great that we consider escaping from it by taking our own lives. Suicidal ideation often accompanies depression.
It can range from mild to extreme and can have a genetic or an environmental aspect or both. When I say environmental, I mean it is caused by adverse or stressful circumstances in our life, particularly if a person had a childhood of neglect or criticism. Generally, depression is an early onset complaint, and people get it in their late teens, but there is a late onset depression, which is rarer and generally stems from hormonal or medical conditions as we age. Early onset depression tends to occur in episodes that generally fade and then recur. Sometimes the time between the episodes lessens and the depressive stress increases.
Clearly, when we consider the lockdowns and restrictions that we are currently suffering during the Covid 19 crisis, it is easy to see how depression can be made much worse. These restrictions are in some cases traumatic, where we, as social beings, have been deprived of human interaction and social contact. When we feel imprisoned, particularly if we live in urban areas, it can quickly lower our mood. We are meant to be free, in a psychological sense, and taking away our freedom can be traumatic for some people. I think there will be a great deal of depression following these relatively long lockdowns, so I want to look at how to deal with it.
It can be very difficult for a person to handle the depression of a partner at the best of times, and during our current ‘imprisonment’ that can be almost impossible. So, people who live with a depressed person should be cognisant of the importance of self-care, as outlined in my last blog. Looking after ourselves in an emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual sense will enable us to cope better with someone who is depressed.
What a depressed person needs is not to be fixed, but a level of empathy from a partner, and certainly not criticism such as ‘snap out of it.’ Empathy is an emotional understanding of the other, a simple statement such as ‘this is very hard for you.’ it shows the depressed person some level of support. Criticism only drives the depression deeper and makes it last longer.
A depressed person needs to be heard, and counselling can be very helpful, where a non-judgemental stranger in a safe place listens and empathises and offers some suggestions if necessary. As well as addressing the inner world of the depressed person, a counsellor will help the person examine the root cause of the depression. Processing them can take the depressive symptoms away. Currently many counsellors are working online. I do not do that, there is nothing like face to face interaction in a safe setting. Counselling is complex and cannot be packaged in a screen, in my opinion, but it may be the only option available at the moment.
As with anxiety, a good diet is essential to ease depression, so plenty of greens, fruits, and lean meat especially fish are useful. There is a myth that nicotine can ease depression. It does not and can keep you on the treadmill, as you may experience a momentary escape from the depression and then back it comes! That is how addictions are created.
A recent study has shown that fresh air on its own can help raise one’s spirits. Combine that with exercise and you have the prescription to ease depression. Exercise is essential. Of course, it can be difficult to drag oneself out of bed and go for a walk or a cycle, but being depressed does not deprive us of choices. A partner can be of great help in this.
Finally, there is the question of medication, of anti-depressants. When my child was killed my doctor prescribed some anti-depressants, but I would have to say that it is best not to take these, unless things become intolerable.
So, during the lockdowns and later on try to get out, force yourself to get up early, have a simple plan for the day, set achievable goals (set small steps), practise positive self-talk and get some therapy.

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