Udayavni Special

Covid-19: Mental health problems on the rise amid the pandemic

Team Udayavani, Jun 26, 2020, 2:50 PM IST

Covid-19 lockdown has led to disruptions in people’s daily routines, as most are restricted from even stepping out of their houses. Also, Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in people.

Many fear of losing their businesses, jobs, earnings, savings or even basic resource and this may be exacerbating symptoms of anxiety or other mental illnesses.

Before the pandemic, 50% of people needing mental health services in high resource countries lacked access to care, with rates of unmet care up to 90% in low resource countries

Dr Reshma, Psychiatrist, KMC, said, “Due to the pandemic, people who are already suffering from mental health issues and are on medication faced a lot of problems as they could not meet their doctors. This may have resulted in increase of symptoms”

A recent cross‐sectional survey of 1,257 health care workers in China found that responders were experiencing concerning levels of depression (50.4%), anxiety (44.6%), insomnia (34%), and distress (71.5%)

Online health platforms too saw a spike in mental health queries amid  Covid-19. Health platform Lybrate reported an 180% rise in online patients consultations related to mental health on its platform between March 1 and June 20.

The largest increase came from Mumbai (205%) and Delhi (180%), followed by Pune (170%), Ahmedabad (155%), Chennai (142%) and Bengaluru (115%). The biggest jump came from those between the age group of 25 and 45 years.

Speaking on the fear of pandemic amid people, Dr Reshma said, “Most of the people suffer from fear of such infectious disease which in extreme conditions may lead to anxiety issues. Such people are more vulnerable to mental health issues”

“Even in such cases, if there is enough social support then one can talk about it to their family members and feel relaxed. But, in some cases, there is lack of social support and the fear turns into something more serious.”

According to CDC (Centre for disease control and prevention), Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause the following:

1.Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.

2.Changes in sleep or eating patterns.

3.Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

4.Worsening of chronic health problems.

5.Worsening of mental health conditions.

6.Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.

On the other hand, college and school students encounter unique challenges leading to poor mental health in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

It is said that the fear and anxiety that students may feel due to the Covid-19 can impact sleeping and eating patterns as well as concentration, exacerbate health conditions, increase substance use and worsen mental health concerns.

Speaking about the issue, Dr Reshma said, “ These days most of teenagers stay in hostel and are used to such lifestyle. Due to which, they might have problems adjusting with their family members. This result in anger issues, depression and many other mental problems.”

“In some cases, the situation is vice versa, due to the lockdown many students were not able to go back to their houses. This leads to feeling of loneliness which might lead to depression”. she added

In worst case scenarios, these mental health issues may lead to suicide. Suicide risk is higher among people who have experienced violence, including child abuse, bullying, or sexual violence and feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, and other emotional or financial stresses can also raise the risk of suicide

But, people may be more likely to experience these feelings even during a crisis like a pandemic.

However, experts say that such people never ask for help as they do not know or are not aware of the mental issue they are facing. In such situation, family members, friends of those must take initiatives of talking to them and understanding their situation.

Also, having access to in-person or virtual counselling or therapy can help with suicidal thoughts and behavior. Many organisations and hospitals in India are providing free counselling and are available 24/7.

Experts also urge everyone to stay in touch with their family members through virtual communication like phones or video chats which can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely and isolated amid the crisis.



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