Back to Top Skip to main content

Easy steps to understanding & thwarting depression during COVID-19

Five people sitting on yoga mats outside in the grass The use of yoga is well known within the military. Here airmen of the 174th Attack Wing participate in a weekly yoga class instructed by Air Force 2nd Lt. Carley Ditro (second from left). Classes are intended to present an alternative way for 174th members to build both mental and physical strength. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Duane Morgan (New York Air National Guard, 174th Attack Wing)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Mental Health Care | Depression

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to how we live daily life. Social distancing, quarantine, and isolation can overwhelm and cause feelings of insecurity, confusion, hopelessness, and, ultimately, depression.

The National Institute for Mental Health within the National Institutes of Health defines depression as a common but serious mood disorder that negatively affects how a person feels, thinks, and handles daily activities such as sleeping, eating, and working. People dealing with depression typically experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent sad or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease with treatment

We all have days when we feel down, but when the periods of sadness persist and are severe enough to impact daily functioning, it may be time to assess your emotional health by completing a self-assessment. A free, anonymous, and confidential mental health screening can be found at the Department of Veterans Affairs website. Screening results are educational, not diagnostic, but are provided so participants may find out quickly if a consultation with a mental health professional would be helpful.

Learning self-care strategies can help you take charge of your life and improve your mental and physical health. A few guiding principles can help all of us cope effectively during this time is to focus on what we can control.

  • Keep routines as much as possible. Maintaining structure and routine is critical because it reinforces order and predictability, and is something over which we have control.
  • Stay connected. Identify friends and family that you can check in with regularly. Video teleconferencing, phone calls, and other social media platforms can be a great way to connect family and friends.
  • Take breaks from listening to the news. Constant news about COVID-19 from all types of media can heighten fears about the disease. If the news cycle impacts mood and increases stress levels, it may be time to limit exposure.
  • Engage in self-care. Participate in regular physical activity to reduce stress and improve mood. Eat healthy, nutritious foods and drink plenty of water. Avoid tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
  • Protect personal and family health. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, wear a mask in public, and practice social distancing from people outside the household.

What’s the difference between a few bad days or weeks and clinical depression that requires help? A consultation with a mental health professional is recommended when feelings or tendencies have lasted for more than two weeks. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

Getting support plays an essential role in coping with depression. Professional counseling services are available for all Department of Defense beneficiaries and their families.

Military members can contact their local mental health clinic for services. Military OneSource is another option for military and their families. For more information, call (800) 342-9647 or visit the Military Onesource website.

Civilian employees may contact the Employee Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling services at (866) 580-9078 or visit the EAP website.

Comprehensive information on mental health can be found at the National Institute of Mental Health website.

You also may be interested in...

DHA-AI 3020-01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Environment

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), based on the authority of References (a) through (b) and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (z3), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA) plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This DHA-AI also provides a preventive plan to monitor and assess for the appearance of new cases and implement those processes that will prevent them from impacting the workforce. The processes describe herein are intended to offer an actionable plan for the workforce to re-enter DHA Administrative Offices. See Appendix 1 for a summary of the DHA Administrative Office Reopening Plan. The plan uses the Force Health Protection Guidance and Health Protection Conditions (HPCON), in accordance with Reference (d), to ensure protection for the workforce, including the most vulnerable-to-serious complications from the virus while enabling DHA Administrative Offices to continue its mission. See Appendix 2 for the conceptual HPCON framework.

  • Identification #: 3020-01
  • Date: 11/3/2020
  • Type: Administrative Instructions
  • Topics: Coronavirus

DHA AI 1020.01: Reasonable Accommodations (RA)

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), based on the authority of References (a) through (c), and in accordance with the guidance of References (d) through (s), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA) procedures to: a. Set procedures, responsibilities, and implement guidance for administering the DHA RA Program in accordance with federal guidelines. b. Provide, submit, and respond to requests for RAs of qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment. c. Process RA requests for DHA employees and applicants with disabilities to ensure an appropriate response in a timely manner. Further, these procedures establish criteria for collecting and annually reporting data on the numbers and types of request for RA considered.

DHA AI 3020.01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Environment

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and in preparation for regression or resurgence in COVID-19 cases that could impact the workforce.

  • Identification #: DHA AI 3020.01
  • Date: 6/12/2020
  • Type: Administrative Instructions
  • Topics: Coronavirus

DHA PM 6025-01: Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH) Standards

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedures Manual (DHA-PM), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (i), establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures to establish required standards for: a. Military Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and primary care clinics for adult, child and adolescent, health behavior, behavioral medicine, and behavioral health services in primary care. b. Behavioral Health Consultants (BHCs). c. Behavioral Health Care Facilitators (BHCFs). d. External Behavioral Health Consultants (EBHCs). e. Primary Care Clinic Leaders.

DHA PI 6490.02: Behavioral Health (BH) Treatment and Outcomes Monitoring

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (k): a. Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures for the collection and analysis of BH outcome data. b. Addresses how DoD will standardize BH outcome data collection to: assess variations in mental health and substance use care among in-garrison medical treatment facilities (MTFs) and clinics; assess the relationship of treatment protocols and practices to BH outcomes; and identify barriers to provider implementation of evidence-based clinical guidance approved by DoD. c. Designates the Army as the DoD lead Service for maintenance and sustainment of the Behavioral Health Data Portal (BHDP) in specialty care mental health and substance use clinics, referred to collectively as BH clinics, until BHDP functionality can be integrated with GENESIS or another electronic health record (EHR) system managed by DHA. d. Designates DHA Information Operations (J-6) as lead on transitioning BHDP functional requirements related to outcomes monitoring to future EHR data collection platforms and processes.

DoD Instruction 6490.10: Continuity of Behavioral Health Care for Transferring and Transitioning Service Members

Policy

In accordance with the authority in Reference (a), this Instruction establishes policy for the Military Departments, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes guidelines for establishment of Military Department policy and procedures to ensure continuity of behavioral health (BH) care at the losing and gaining installations when Service members transition from one health care provider (HCP) to another when transferring to a new duty station or transitioning out of the Service.

  • Identification #: DoD Instruction 6490.10
  • Date: 10/28/2015
  • Type: Instructions
  • Topics: Mental Health Care

DoD Instruction 6490.15: Integration of Behavioral Health Personnel (BHP) Services Into Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Primary Care and Other Primary Care Service Settings

Policy

This instruction establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for attainment of inter-Service standards for developing, initiating, and maintaining adult behavioral health services in primary care.

  • Identification #: DoD Instruction 6490.15
  • Date: 11/20/2014
  • Type: Instructions
  • Topics: Mental Health Care

DoD Instruction 6490.05: Maintenance of Psychological Health in Military Operations

Policy

This instruction establishes policy and assigns responsibilities in accordance with References (c), (d), and (e) for developing combat and operational stress control (COSC) programs within the Military Departments, the Combatant Commands, and joint Service operations.

  • Identification #: DoD Instruction 6490.05
  • Date: 10/2/2013
  • Type: Instructions
  • Topics: Mental Health Care

DoD Instruction 6490.12: Mental Health Assessments for Service Members Deployed in Connection with a Contingency Operation

Policy

This instruction establishes the policy for person-to-person deployment mental health assessments for each member of the Military Services deployed in connection with a contingency operation according to Section 1074m of Title 10, United States Code (Reference (b)).

  • Identification #: DoD Instruction 6490.12
  • Date: 10/2/2013
  • Type: Instructions
  • Topics: Mental Health Care

DoD Instruction 6490.04: Mental Health Evaluations of Members of the Military Services

Policy

Reissues DoD Instruction 6490.4 (Reference (b)), establishing policy, assigning responsibilities, and prescribing procedures for the referral, evaluation, treatment, and medical and command management of Service members who may require assessment for mental health issues, psychiatric hospitalization, and risk of imminent or potential danger to self or others.

  • Identification #: DoD Instruction 6490.04
  • Date: 4/3/2013
  • Type: Instructions
  • Topics: Mental Health Care

DoD Instruction 6490.08: Command Notification Requirements to Dispel Stigma in Providing Mental Health Care to Service Members

Policy

This instruction provides guidance for balance between patient confidentiality rights and the commander’s right to know for operation and risk management decisions.

  • Identification #: DoD Instruction 6490.08
  • Date: 8/17/2011
  • Type: Instructions
  • Topics: Mental Health Care

Mental Health Assessments for Members of the Armed Forces Deployed in Connection with a Contingency Operation

Policy

Policy Guidance for Deployment-Limiting Psychiatric Conditions and Medications

Policy

This policy provides guidance on deployment and continued service in a deployed environment for military personnel who experience psychiatric disorders and/or who are prescribed psychotropic medication.

HA 97-017: Policy for Post-Deployment Mental Health Screening in the Bosnian Theater

Policy

This memo describes a change in procedure for medical surveillance of U.S. forces deploying to Bosnia.

Showing results 1 - 14 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.