Impact of Coronavirus on the person who is suffering from Obsession Compulsion disorder.

Impact of Coronavirus on the person who is suffering from Obsession Compulsion disorder.

Impact of Coronavirus on the person who is suffering from OCD.

Before the advent of COVID-19, anxiety disorders already copious as one of the most communal mental health problems worldwide. COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will practice mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Elder people, and those with medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious infection. With COVID-19, men and women of Asian origin, specifically Chinese, are the sufferers of social stigma and xenophobia, with high levels of politicization and pressures online and in personal communications. As we witnessed, In India we have Janata curfew on 22nd March 2020 and 21 days lockdown too for safety measures. WHO India has been working closely with MoHFW on preparation and response measures for COVID-19, including examination and contact copying, laboratory analysis, risk communications and community meeting, hospital preparedness, infection stoppage and control, and application of repression plan.

"India is fighting against COVID-19. Extraordinary situations demand extraordinary measures. The Prime Minister has taken courageous and decisive steps to break the chain of transmission. It is equally vigorous that this window is used for further ramping up measures to find, isolate, test, treat and trace. WHO stands together in harmony with India and its people and is committed to providing all the support that is needed," says Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India. COVID-19 might be expected to trigger some of the symbols of OCD, such as hyper-vigilance and obsession with hygiene. Washing your hands and practicing social distancing are great applied ways to take care of your physical health during this time.

About OCD:

OCD i.e. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder in which the people have persevere, annoying thoughts, ideas or feelings (Obsessions) that make them feel forced to do something endlessly (Compulsions). Actions like: washing hands, checking on things or cleaning, can interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions. People with OCD have obsessions or compulsions, or both. Many people have intensive thoughts or recurrent behaviours. But these do not disturb daily life and may enhance structure or make tasks easier. For people with OCD, thoughts are persistent and unwanted practices and behaviours are rigid and not doing them causes great distress. Many people with OCD distinguish or dubious their obsessions are not true; others may think they could be true. Even if they know their obsessions are not true, people with OCD have a hard time keeping their emphasis off the obsessions or stopping the compulsive actions.

Obsessions: Obsessions are regular and obstinate thoughts, instincts, or images that cause worrying emotions such as anxiety or disgust. Many people with OCD distinguish that the thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of their mind and are excessive or irrational. Yet these disturbing thoughts cannot be settled by reasoning. Most people with OCD try to ignore or defeat such obsessions or offset them with some other thought or action. Obsessions includes: Fear of contamination, Fear of losing or misplacing something, worries about harm, Having things in perfect order.

Compulsions: Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or psychological acts that a person feels to perform in response to an obsession. The behaviours are intended at stopping or reducing distress or a feared situation. In most severe cases, a continuous repetition of rituals may fill the day, making a normal routine intolerable. Compounding the pain these rituals cause is the knowledge that the compulsions are irrational. Although the compulsion may bring some release to the worry, the obsession returns and the cycle repeats over and over. Compulsions includes: Excessively cleaning or washing hands, arranging items in a particular way, repeatedly checking things such as door is locked or tap is off, counting items again and again etc.

Relate COVID 19 with OCD:

The coronavirus disease has turned many of us into a person with an extreme fear of germs and an obsession with cleanliness, seeking to protect ourselves from infection by washing our hands regularly, avoiding redundant contact with so called high-touch exteriors and thoroughly sanitizing packages, our homes and our bodies.

For people who are identified with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or O.C.D., the worry created by the menace of coronavirus has the potential for more powerful and longer-lasting consequences. For OCD patients COVID 19 is not less than a worst nightmare. It is spreading quickly in our country also. Daily media is flashing the guidelines to keep ourselves safe, clean and protective. Washing hands for 20 seconds after every hour, wearing mask when sick, not touching your face and disinfecting your face etc. But as we all know Excess of Everything is not good.

As its visible that normally all human beings are worried and following this habit after given interval specially washing hands. So, think about the OCD patient. How they must be acting and worried?

In International OCD foundation it states that: “The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the ongoing worldwide outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a pandemic. In response, public health experts around the world have asked individuals and organizations to take action to prevent and limit the transmission of this disease in their communities. This may generate exclusive challenges for individuals in the OCD and correlated ailments community as we work to balance what is best for people health and what is best for our individual mental health.”

News of a communicable disease may cause anxiety for many people, but someone with OCD may become deeply fearful of affected by this. As OCD who have a history of unnecessary handwashing, cleaning and avoiding infection may well be ‘triggered’ by news of a viral outbreak such as coronavirus. The compulsion to wash or clean is likely to strengthen, and for those who have successfully recovered from the compulsion to wash or clean, the symptoms may return. There is an instruction to wash hands for at least 20 seconds, to wash hands whenever one arrives home or at work and whenever one handles food will worry people affected with compulsive handwashing.

One of the important features of OCD is that there is a propensity to doubt the achievement of a compulsive behaviour.  For example, if someone is affected by the fear that they have not locked the main gate, they may have to check the gate is locked again and again; they may even have to take a photograph of the engaged lock before they might reassure themselves that the gate is locked. Similarly, in the present coronavirus outbreak, people with OCD may find it difficult to stop washing hands after 20 seconds; the added dangers around the virus may leave the person feeling forced to wash for longer, or they may feel forced to repeat the handwashing cycle a definite number of times. There may also be doubt about the method and the usefulness of the washing. This may lead to the idea that the washing must be repeated; it may also lead people to go to extreme lengths such as using cleaning solutions such as bleach, or harsh materials such as nail removers to satisfy the idea that the hands are still contaminated. The failure of the skin’s natural oils will make handwashing painful and will affect the skin’s ability to protect itself from infection.

The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and clomipramine are currently suggested as first-line agents for drug treatment of OCD, there are also many apps and breathing exercises, as well as relaxation techniques and mindfulness exercises, which can be useful. The OCD patients should take a break from the news and ensure that while they follow all official advice, they don’t go to extreme lengths which might be counter-productive.

Effect on OCD patients:

COVID-19 created lots of anxiety in OCD patient as they are already attached to the practice of hand washing, cleanliness, and following a particular routine. This COVID 19 has led to panic attacks to OCD patients. Their thoughts are uncontrollable. The patients who have already controlled their habits by visiting their counsellors also have been indulging more in these habits as it is the direction given by our Government. Some OCD patients thoroughly cleaning their home. After every second they are worried as: Are my hands clean. Washing their hands, using sanitisers after every hour. Everyday cleaning their gates, windows, door bells with sanitisers. These people have so much fear that they are keeping themselves isolated from others and not even taking part in any conversations with family members too. Every time cleaning their cupboard, each and every thing kept in the room etc. They have anxiety of being infectious by others. This is a very dangerous situation for OCD patients as this create lots of negativity in their mind. Their thought process is like – Am I infectious or What if I get infected?

There are various guideline to follow for OCD patients to fight with COVID-19:

Tell them to engage in lots of breathing exercises or deep breathing.  Few relaxation techniques could be suggested to them like JPMR i.e. Jacobson’s Relaxation technique. It is a type of therapy that focuses on tightening and relaxing specific muscle groups in sequence. It is also known as progressive relaxation therapy. It will help them to keep stress free.

Watch news channel once a day, no excess of news watching. Only trust official sites for COVID 19 as people are more interested in rumours.

Try to connect yourself with Counsellor through skype or call. Take their advice timely and share your daily routine.

Indulge yourself in activities like: listening to calm music, Drawing or Painting. Devote your time with your family member- Talk to them or play some fun activities.

Due to anxiety these people have lack of sleep for that please do lots of physical exercises like jumping, walking in home or terrace, skipping if possible, Aerobic dancing, Zumba and lots more. As these all workout will help you to make tired and will let you sleep at night, otherwise you will be awake and negative thoughts will come in your mind.

The most important is Healthy diet but not heavy diet. More intake of fluids and green vegetable in your diet. Intake of Vitamin C as it will boost your immune system. Take lots and lots of water, fix a time that after every one or two hour I have to drink a glass of water.

Make those choices which are healthy for your body and mind too. As mind is the one which govern all your body so it should also be healthy and full of positive thoughts.

TIMES OF HIGH STRESS CAN BRING OUT BOTH THE BEST AND THE WORST IN PEOPLE. It’s pleasing when it brings out the best, but it’s completely normal and clear when it brings out the worst. Try to be mindful of how you’re feeling and acting on a given day, and excuse yourself for the times when you might not be at your best.

About the Author

Reena Rana
Student Counselor.

Ms Reena Rana is a student counsellor.

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