MEDICINE AND SOCIETY
Year : 2020 | Volume
: 1 | Issue : 2 | Page : 159--160
Mental health and COVID
Senior Consultant, Neuro-Psychaitry, New Delhi, India
Dr. Sanjay Chugh
Senior Consultant, Neuro-Psychaitry, Dr. Sanjay Chugh Clinic, S-132, Basement Greater Kailash Part 2, New Delhi - 110048
|How to cite this article:|
Chugh S. Mental health and COVID.J Med Evid 2020;1:159-160
|How to cite this URL:|
Chugh S. Mental health and COVID. J Med Evid [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Jul 5 ];1:159-160
Available from: http://www.journaljme.org/text.asp?2020/1/2/159/303568
The past few months have been unprecedented in more than one way as the world grapples with an invisible enemy called the coronavirus. It has changed our way of life at every level. Everything that was once familiar and normal has become dangerous, unsafe and risky today. For us, witnessing a countrywide lockdown was a first-time experience. To be living in social isolation, maintaining no physical contact with anyone and staying indoors for extended period of time wasn't easy. For some of us, adapting to this change was mentally painful and traumatic as it suddenly put brakes to our 'known normal' and it asked us to create a 'new normal'.
We are social animals and the idea of living in isolation is dreadful. The lack of certainty of when will all these end makes it worse. For the vulnerable lot, that is, the elderly people, life becomes worse as the fear and panic is much more. They are being asked to stay home and not go for walks, sit in the park, go to temples or visit their friends and family. These are the few things that give meaning to their lives and make them look forward to the day. In addition, to know that the virus affects those with low immunity or those dealing with pre-existing medical conditions does little for their morale, putting them at risk for depression and anxiety disorder.
Children need to stay indoors all the time. With online schooling, tuitions and virtual meetings with friends and family, the screen time has increased exponentially. For many kids, even activities of leisure, such as a dance or a music class, are now happening online. This leaves them with no opportunity to physically meet people and have a human contact outside home.
This can have a negative effect on their health. There can be a change in their sleep pattern and appetite (eating more or less than usual). Common complaints of irritable mood, agitation, feeling keyed up, restless or being more quiet than usual and feeling dull and withdrawn can be noticed. If these complaints persist for a sustained period of time and they start to interfere with the child's daily functioning, one needs to take it as a sign of concern and offer necessary psychological help.
Like children, adults too are going through their set of challenges. Almost suddenly, we were all made to shift to a work-from-home setting. While there are some people who have the option of working from home which gives some semblance of a routine life, for many people, their occupational life has suddenly been taken away from them. They are left with a feeling of vacuum and uncertainty.
The economy has hit its worst low and financial worries are slowly beginning to creep in. We are scared of losing our job; of being handed the pink slip or being deprived of our expected bonus, incentive or a job confirmation letter. This brings with it feelings of insecurity about the future, money and savings.
Living away from home and family and not being able to connect with your loved ones can be an emotionally isolating experience, which many of us are struggling with.
All these can take an enormous toll on our physical and mental well-being. There can be a million questions running in our head and no clear answer that can reduce the anxiety. 'Will this get better? Will I and my family be safe? What if I or someone known to me gets affected? What if I lose my job? When will I get to meet my family, friends? There are people dying, every day, what can I do to help?' These questions can make us sad and bring feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Tackling this while we are in self-isolation and following social distancing can be difficult, but it is important that we do not let this get the better of us.
It is only those who are mentally resilient will be able to tide through this with minimal damage. For others, life post pandemic can still be debilitating. However, the good news is that we can all build our resilience.
Some ways in which we can protect our mental health can be:
Create a routine – It is what brings normalcy to our life. It lets us know that life is on track and we are in control of thingsEducate yourself about the illness. When we are informed, we have a better handle over our emotional stateExercise – The release of endorphins will keep the mood positive. Exercise regularly for at least 30–40 min, six times a weekAdopt healthy sleeping and eating habits that build immunityLimit your consumptions of alcohol, nicotine and caffeineMonitor your consumption of news related to the pandemic. Hearing and watching grim news can be upsetting and can affect your moodPractice yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercise to keep the mind calm and relaxed from the chaos around youStay connected with friends and family through video callsConnect with your faith, a higher power that you believe in as it can serve as an emotional anchor in this difficult phase of lifeRest, relax and recuperate.
Change the meaning of the lockdown/pandemic in your head. The way you perceive it, will influence your emotional state. Think of it as a chance to slow down from the madness of a hurried life. A chance to connect with yourself to pause, re-evaluate and reset your life. It is perhaps nature's way of giving us a wakeup call!
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.