Michelle Obama says she's suffering from 'low-grade depression' amid the pandemic

She spoke about her mental health struggles on her latest podcast episode.

August 6, 2020, 2:46 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for many people, including Michelle Obama.

The former first lady opened up about her mental health in the newest episode of her eponymous podcast.

Obama, 56, admitted on Wednesday that the pandemic -- along with the current administration's response -- has placed her on an emotional rollercoaster. "I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression," the Grammy Award-winner detailed, adding that she has "gone through those emotional highs and lows" where she doesn't feel like herself.

Obama noted that she is not alone in feeling this way because "spiritually, these are not fulfilling times."

The former FLOTUS detailed that, along with concerns over COVID-19, she is also affected by the "racial strife" dividing the nation.

"Part of this depression is also a result of what we're seeing in terms of the protests [and] the continued racial unrest that has plagued this country since its birth," she said.

Dr. Victor Fornari, a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, commended Obama for speaking out on her mental health battle in a statement obtained by ABC News.

"During these unprecedented times, heightened anxiety and depressed mood have been quite prevalent," Dr. Fornari shared. "Although the lifetime rate of depression is about one in five nationally, generally, 10 percent of the U.S. population experiences a depressive episode each year lasting more than two weeks. Stressors that may contribute to the development of an episode of depression can include financial hardship, illness, loss, as well as other stressful life events."

"The Covid-19 pandemic has been the source of enormous stress for everyone," his statement continued. "This, coupled with the racial injustice and the tragic murder of George Floyd, has unleashed an enormous outpouring of frustration and demand for racial equality and demand for change. Through the brave self-disclosures of prominent individuals like Mrs. Obama, it is hoped that others will seek care and not feel embarrassed or ashamed of their emotional struggles."

Above all else, Michelle Obama noted that "watching the hypocrisy of [the current administration] day in and day out is dispiriting."

PHOTO: Michelle Obama speaks during her "Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama" Tour at the Ericsson Globe Arena on April 10, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden.
Michelle Obama speaks during her "Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama" Tour at the Ericsson Globe Arena on April 10, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden.
Michael Campanella/Getty Images

"Waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to yet another story of a Black man or a Black person somehow being dehumanized, or hurt or killed or falsely accused of something ... it is exhausting," she said "It has led to a weight that I haven't felt in my life in a while."

Obama says she has been "staying in a routine" to help improve her moods, from working out to playing card games with her husband Barack Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia each night.

"We will get through this," the "Becoming" author assured, adding that the nation has faced tough times before and only grew stronger.