COVID-19 and mental health
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
The impact of COVID-19 on global physical and mental health is profound.
Various mental challenges during this testing time include:
· People in quarantine or isolation experience negative feelings like anxiety, panic attacks, depression, frustration, and boredom.
· Irregular sleep pattern and decreased sleep.
· Fear about the spread, infection, and suffering has increased the stress and anxiety in our lives.
· Addictive behaviors like excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, online games, and social networking sites are on the rise.
· Social stigma about the disease or infection can increase anxiety among the diseased individual and their caretakers too.
· Lockdown and social distancing have made us lonely and frustrated.
· Grief when the disease infects a relative or a friend.
· Previous mental illness may be precipitated due to stress and anxiety.
· Economic crisis, unemployment, shortage of supplies has led to uncertainty, hopelessness, and frustration.
· Domestic violence and abuse have increased during the lockdown.
· Inappropriate and excess information about the pandemic may lead to fear and anxiety, impacting mental health adversely.
· Uncertainty and emotional disturbances may lead to suicidal thoughts.
· Health care workers suffer from psychological distress, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.
· Post-traumatic stress disorder may be an effect of the quarantine or the disease itself.
· Fear of missing out (FOMO) in adolescents as a result of school closure and social distancing is observed.
· Increased screen time affects the circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle).
· Depression, anxiety among elderly citizens may escalate during the isolation and quarantine period.
· Low resilience is seen in young children and the elderly age group.
· Decreased physical activity and eating disorders during quarantine are observed which may lead to depression and obesity.
Measures to tackle the mental wellbeing during COVID-19
· Inculcating a positive outlook towards life and situation is a very important skill during a crisis.
· Appropriate use of social media by promoting accurate information regarding the disease and filtering the unwanted and exaggerated news can help in this time.
· Positive lifestyle changes like aerobic activities, yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises) reduces stress.
· Practicing mindfulness will help to combat depression and anxiety
· Emotional and social support to the elderly and children helps them to cope during the crisis. If you can’t visit your elderly parents, reassure them virtually and boost up their morale.
· Consuming balanced and healthy food, rich in antioxidants and nutrients is helpful for physical health and mental well-being.
· Limiting alcohol consumption and smoking are known to decrease health-related issues.
· Reducing screen time will immensely help us to focus better, reduces the strain on eyes, and improve the quality of sleep.
· Following a daily routine and sharing the household chore with kids will help in keeping them occupied.
· Unwinding and connecting with relatives and friends virtually will help you in coping during this period.
· Counseling plays a very important role in recognizing the underlying mental problem and may help the people who are on the verge of a breakdown or suicidal thoughts.
· Consulting a psychiatrist or a psychologist is life-saving at times, never hesitate to seek professional help when needed.
Prioritizing mental health is as important as finding a cure or vaccine for COVID-19. A positive attitude and practicing empathy will help us during this uncertain times.