The inability to see the end of the tunnel, the loneliness, worry at the professional level. The coronavirus, the confinement, and also the terrorism which continues to strike, plunge many French people into deep discomfort: depressive syndromes have doubled in a few weeks.
“What is hard is the accumulation. There has been too much going on this year,” says Marie, 43. This Parisian, mother of two, feels that she is “on the verge of rocking.” “It is ramped up on the return from the All Saints holidays” with the re-containment, the terrorist assassination of Professor Samuel Paty, the Nice attack.
With her husband, a general practitioner, she follows the Covid figures in an “almost obsessive” way. But she tries at home to talk only about positive things: “Otherwise, I’ll unscrew”. This senior executive has for ten days “struggled to work, to find pleasure”. “Everything is hard work: taking care of the children, celebrating birthdays, organizing Skype with friends. I have a feeling of suffocation.”
Discomfort, depression and also depression are gaining ground. Thursday, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran observed that mental health had “significantly deteriorated”. Between the end of September and the beginning of November, the number of people in a depressive state doubled, from 10 to 21% according to Public Health France.
Already during the first confinement and the months that followed, the consumption of anxiolytics and sleeping pills increased, with nearly 1.6 million additional treatments delivered in 6 months compared to the expected level.
“We want to avoid a third wave, which would be a wave of mental health,” said Olivier Véran during a visit to “Fil santé jeunes”, a listening device for 12-25 year olds. Students are particularly affected.
“Resources are running out”
On the forum of this platform, a call for help: “I will soon be 21 years old and the time I have spent on earth already seems far too long”. The confinement “has only made matters worse, my future, if I have one, is more than uncertain (…), I realize how much I am alone, absolutely no one takes any my news. The worst thing is that I had to go back to my parents.
If the children seem more protected, Julie saw her 10-year-old daughter sink. “When her day center closed during the holidays because the director had the Covid, I started to see tics appear”, says the mother of the family.
But the change took place on the day of the start of the school year, marked by the wearing of the mask for schoolchildren and the tribute to Samuel Paty. The same evening, the girl had a panic attack: “We’re not going to get out of it”. Her tics got worse and she triggered “something like Tourette’s syndrome”. The usually calm child began to insult his mother, to make incoherent words, to shout in his room.
She is now followed by a psychologist and will consult a neurologist. “The context, it made him twist,” describes Julie.
The Red Cross receives around 300 calls a day, three times more than a year ago. Words keep coming back. Rosine Duhamel, head of the psychological support center, noted a few words from callers. “I did not want to relive a confinement. (…) I do not see the end of it, I do not know if things will return as before one day and that scares me terribly”.
Loneliness weighs heavily. “Silence, when you’re alone, it’s like a noise,” said one of them.
On another line, Suicide Listen, a man with respiratory failure shared his thoughts of suicide. “I drink more and more since confinement. I disgust myself.” “Terrorized” to catch the Covid, he no longer goes out. “What’s the point of continuing like this?” He asked.
“With repetition and duration, the resources to adapt are exhausted”, explains Rosine Duhamel. “And when the defense mechanisms break down, we risk falling into a depressed state. That’s what we see today.”