What to know

about Low-grade



A recent podcast of the former First lady of the United States of America – Michelle Obama, has sparked the interest of many in a rare state of depression known as low-grade depression. During the podcast, Michelle Obama expressed her experience with low-grade depression and how when it creeps in can shatter our mental health.

The former First lady talked about how the global pandemic – COVID-19, discrimination, and current political issues have all contributed to her poor mental health state. Conversing with journalist Michele Norris, she recounted how she would wake up at the dead of the night worrying or brooding over something or another.

Those occurrences aren’t just regular; I knew I was dealing with symptoms of low-grade depression, she recounted.

And it’s not because of the lockdown or quarantine whatsoever, but, because of disheartening daily racial violence, administration problems and its hypocrisies.

Consistent with all that Michelle Obama said, it is clear that her words agree with many of the popular beliefs on the current issues with the American society. Actually, it’s true that unprecedented periods have serious implications on our mental health. For instance, a Mental Health Foundation study in the UK alone found out that at least, 62% of adults in the United Kingdom, reported having anxiety symptoms during the early weeks of the lockdown.

Low-grade depression particularly has been a focal point of attention recently as it perfectly catches how many of us have been feeling since the outbreak of the pandemic early this year.

To explain the low-grade depression experience of Michelle, we can refer to it in terms of its similarity with “dysthymia or persistent mild depression,” said Josh MacNab – from Root Counselling.

Clearly, we might expect to see that popular symptoms of dysthymia are in congruence with what Michelle experienced such as;

  • loss of appetite
  • negative self-esteem,
  • fatigue
  • poor concentration
  • Insomnia
  •  hopelessness, among others.

However, the basic difference between the dysthymia and severe depressive disorder is that dysthymia surfaces after a long time battling with severe depressive episodes and it’s also a type of persistent depressive disorder.

Similar with other mental health problems, dysthymia can be initiated by events happening around us. It is important to point out that dysthymia, though may sound new to many people, is naturally chronic and can affect major aspects of our lives.

According to Josh, depression can generally be triggered by previously experienced trauma. The COVID-19 pandemic is one; and truly, our lives have been significantly affected. Daily routines and schedules have been disrupted as many businesses have now been forced to adopt new work schedule. Our physical interaction is also not left out as social distancing is now the new norm and we’re forced to adapt to these new changes.

To clinically diagnose a person for dysthymia, the symptoms must have manifested for at least two years. Because it takes time to manifest, Josh noted that a sufferer from this disorder may see him/herself as simply having “character flaw” and not a mental health issue.

At that time, a person sees anger, pessimism, being sad and hopeless as normal and legit feelings. So, it is necessary to point out to you that once the feelings of hopelessness and other symptoms begin to affect your daily life unhealthily, you need to acknowledge that something is wrong and seek help immediately.

Perhaps you realize that over a period of time, your mood is affecting your relationships, family and social life, physical health, and daily activities, it is recommended that visiting your General Practitioner (GP) or seeking a counselling session is the best option. For the First lady, “scheduling a talk therapy session” is crucial to her mental wellness, you should prioritize the same.

To know if what we’ve been talking about is what you’re experiencing, or are considering seeking therapy or other methods, taking time to examine yourself (such as your thoughts, emotions, and feeling) might really help to manage your mental health.

And on a final note, it is important for you to know that if the former First Lady of the United States of America – Michelle Obama, can admit and ultimately pay serious attention to her mental health, it’s not saying if we can just do the same.