Posted by: Francis Koster Published: November 15, 2020

America is having two different epidemics at the same time.

Our country is having two epidemics, not one.

The first one is Covid-19. In the past eight months, the Covid-19 virus has infected almost 11 million Americans and killed four times more than were killed in the entire Vietnam war. [1],[2] The projections are that by the end of February 2021, the numbers of infected will double to more than 22 million, and the number of dead will equal that of those Americans killed in WWll.[3],[4]

Family members of patients who have Covid-19 are also learning that it can cause long term damage to the heart, lungs, brain, and other parts of the bodies of those who survive.[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10]

Depressing, isn’t it? And that is just the first epidemic.

The second epidemic is actually impacting far more people, but almost no one is talking about it. Chances are you have it or know someone who does. It is called Depression.

Simply put, there are two major kinds of depression. The first is the kind you get when your life takes a blow, like the passing of a loved one, or losing your job. This is “normal” and usually recedes after an understandable grieving time. The second kind is what happens either when nothing went wrong in your life but you feel very down in spirit anyway, or a bad thing happened years ago and you still do not have your emotional balance back. This is not “normal depression”, and requires medical help.

Covid-19 is causing a rapid rise in both kinds of depression.

Before Covid-19, about one in thirteen Americans had an episode of depression every year.[11] In one study done in the spring, as Covid-19 was emerging, participants who reported symptoms of depression increased by 50% in just one month.[12]Another done in late June found that around one in three reported suffering from anxiety or depression, and one in ten seriously considered suicide![13]

You are not the only one Covid-19 is making feeling depressed.

On top of this, there is a well-known kind of depression that usually starts in the fall, and lasts throughout the winter. Called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it is caused by a reduction in exposure to sunlight due to shorter days in the fall.[14] About one in twenty Americans feel it every year.[15] Pile that on top of our virus mess.

The risk of depression is twice as high for women[16], higher still for unpaid people caring for the elderly[17], and even higher for those who have little or no contact with family or friends outside the home. Depression can run in families, so if you have a blood relative who has experienced it, the odds you will feel it rise. Quite a number of people with depression are reading this article now.

The good news is that there are some things that you can do to help yourself and others.

First, ask yourself what you do that makes you feel better. We all have different personalities, and different experiences boost our spirits. Ride a motorcycle, buy some flowers, talk to your grandkids – whatever lifts your spirit, schedule more of it. Second, reduce your alcohol consumption. Third, clean up your diet – eat less sugar and fat, more fresh fruits, and vegetables[18]. Forth, start taking some vitamins. One place to start is with Vitamin D3. In addition to helping with depression, it will lower your chances of getting Covid-19.[19],[20],[21] You can also begin to take Vitamin B12, which turns out to be very helpful, particularly in older males.[22] Also, take Creatine[23] supplements. Read my article about inaccurate labeling on vitamins first – Google “Koster what do we do when healthy foods are unhealthy”. Fifth, spend an hour or so outside each day.

If you need guidance about next steps, call your doctor. They can probably do a video consultation. They may order up some blood tests to check for low vitamin levels, or they may prescribe some medication. Also, speak to your doctor about getting a “sunlight box”. This is a light that beams out specific wavelengths that hit the eyes and skin and prompt the brain to make healthy chemicals that reduce depression.[24]

There is a national helpline you call for free help at 1-800-662- 4357. [25] In Rowan County, North Carolina, you can call Novant Health at 1-800-718-3550. There is no charge. In Cabarrus County, North Carolina, you can call Atrium Health at 704.444.2400, and just hold on while Ms. Robot gives you some choices. Be patient, and just listen. When she is done, a real caring human will answer. There is no charge.

This second epidemic is hurting more people than Covid-19, and unless we make this issue more public, it will continue to do damage to family and friends. It will take courage for you to admit you may have it, or to reach out to others you think might.

If you do not, who will?

We cannot make progress toward lowering suffering unless we all pitch in.

Authored by Francis Koster Ed. D.
Note to readers: We have received strong positive feedback about the value of the content of these emails. We would like to increase the number of screens they appear on. Not our strength, so if you have any thoughts about how to do that, please reach out to us at

Also, please check out our second project, which loans pollution detection equipment to people interested in indoor environments in schools. We "Make the Invisible Visible". We had to suspend that project due to the Covid-19 virus shutting schools down, but the intent does restart it someplace down the road. Please check out the information we gained in that effort thus far by clicking here:

[3] IHME COVID-19 Forecasting Team., Reiner, R.C., Barber, R.M. et al. Modeling COVID-19 scenarios for the United States. Nat Med (2020).
[12] The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic: A probability-based, nationally representative study of mental health in the United States. Science Advances 14 Oct 2020:
[13] Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
[21] The relationship of severity of depression with homocysteine, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin D levels in children and adolescents
[23] Dietary creatine intake and depression risk among U.S. adults. Transl Psychiatry 10, 52 (2020).
[24] Short exposure to light treatment improves depression scores in patients with seasonal affective disorder: A brief report

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Francis P. Koster Ed.D.

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