Mental Health issues might hike after Corona. Why?
Something which we never saw coming has disturbed the whole world. Individuals are feeling catastrophic. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in variety of feelings and emotions in every human being. Emotion comes from Latin word ‘Emovere’ which means to be disturbed. One of the most spoken topics in Covid-19 times is Mental Health. Mental Health means cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being of an individual. It is all about how individuals think, feel, and behave or act. Individuals occasionally use the term ‘mental health’ to mean the absence of a mental disorder. Mental Health was something that was not given due importance some months ago until today. Today, world is not just talking about it but is also understanding how much important it is to look after one’s mental health just like physical health because mental health and physical health are both essential. Mental health also hinders everyday life, relationships, and physical health. As it is said that ‘Intensity of emotions makes a person mentally ill’; we would all agree on the fact that this crisis has resulted in diversity of emotions and its intensity that is felt is diverse for different people. Stressors and fears cause different mental and physical side effects and may prompt to the contribution of anxiety disorders, depression and sleep disorders.
Mental health issues like increased levels of stress, anxiety, depression, OCD i.e. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and sleep disorders can be seen and are being talked about during COVID-19 times and post COVID-19 times as well. As we all know that stress is a survival mechanism and it is a physiological reaction to threat, stress can be good (eustress) as well as bad (distress). Negative statistics of COVID-19 has made individuals not only stressed but they are panicking too. Losing jobs, nervousness about going to public places, worrying about the statistics of pandemic and its vaccination, not being able to meet loved ones for a long period of time, fear of having the disease, financial crisis and thinking about future has resulted in increased levels of stress. Talking about anxiety and depression, they are the most common mental health disorders that world is facing and its number of cases can be seen rising simultaneously. When an individual tends to experience stress for a prolonged period of time, and the body is not able to adapt to it; it causes anxiety. Thus, it is a feeling that is portrayed by thoughts of strain, stressed thoughts, and physical changes. It also leads to flight or fight responses. Every 1 in 4 Indian suffers from anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety are –
- Physical symptoms like sweating, trembling, agitation, nausea, dizziness, tense muscles, racing heart, dry mouth, shaky hands.
- Emotional symptoms like anger, guilt, helpless, shame, fear, disappointment.
Depression is a mood disorder (also known as affective disorder) which is something that is more than just being sad! Depression comes in forms ranging from major depression to dysthymia and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Depressive episodes are also a feature of Bipolar Disorder. Symptoms of depression are-
- Suicidal thoughts and tendency, worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, loss of energy, changes in appetite, changes in sleep pattern, feeling of guilt, etc.
According to the WHO (World Health Organisation) report of 2019, India has the highest suicide rate in South East Asia; and one of the core reasons for this is that we tend to label people as ‘mad’, ‘crazy’ when they share about what they are going through. So, instead of understanding them and helping them what we actually tend to do is that we label them. On talking about mental health, “Everybody has some sort of anxiety,” says P.K. Dalal, President of the Indian Psychiatric Society. “If we don’t do something about it now, individuals will be experiencing these psychological well-being impacts for a considerable length of time to come," said Paul Gionfriddo, President of the advocacy group Mental Health America. What Dr Konstantinos Petsanis worries about most is, mental health as he says life after post-pandemic will be different. Hao, F., Tan, W., Jiang, L., et al, (2020) conducted a study to assess and compare the immediate stress and psychological impacts experienced by individuals with and without mental illnesses during the peak of 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic with strict and severe lockdown measures. They found out that in psychiatric patients and poor physical health individuals the levels of anxiety, stress, insomnia and depression were higher.
Another thing is sleep which is affected even by physical illness or in general like when people overthink. Hence, sleep has been affected adversely during this pandemic. The most prominent and universal reason for sleep deprivation being more in middle- aged adults (35-50yrs) could be that around this age group every adult (middle-age) suffers from a Mid-life crisis. This is the age group that also suffers from the maximum levels of stress and anxiety. The very possible reason for it can be that around this age group the adult’s children are also in the settling age and their parents are also aging drastically. The fear of losing their parents combined with the fear of the child's career leads to off charts existential levels of stress, panic and anxiety. When the sufficient amount of sleep is not attained, it can lead to various problems at all the levels of human existence. Sleep is needed for both the physiological and psychological functions to work properly. Without sleep or no proper sleep, our day to day functioning gets ruined. Physiologically, it directly hampers our immune system i.e. a major role player in protecting us from many diseases and viruses in the environment. Without proper functioning of the immune system, one's life span gets deduced by almost 20 years or so. Psychologically, it leads to mid-night anxiety, panic attacks and eventually depression. With its prolong effect it can also lead to Schizophrenia. In worst case, it can also lead to Amnesia. Hence, the sleep quality of young adults is quite disrupted during the times of COVID-19 and being under lockdown.
OCD i.e. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder involves obsessions (repeated unreasonable or unwanted thoughts) which causes anxiety that leads to compulsive behaviours (activity or behaviour that is done/performed repeatedly in order to fulfil the urge of obsessions). In COVID-19 pandemic, OCD rates have been rising as for example people can be seen washing their hands in every 1 hour because they feel that they will contract the disease and they are unhygienic (obsession) so to keep themselves clean they wash their hands very often which also hampers their daily lives.
Some individuals who were or were not infected with coronavirus, might deal with PTSD i.e. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Any traumatic event – from personal tragedy to a global or worldwide emergency like COVID-19 – can incur significant damage and cause traumatic stress. It’s normal to experience traumatic stress following an upsetting occasion, regardless of whether it's the coronavirus pandemic. Traumatic stress can break your sense of safety and security, leaving you feeling defenceless and powerless in a risky world. Physically and emotionally drained, suffering with grief, or finding it difficult to focus, sleep, or control your temper and remain calm are a few things that can be felt. These are all ordinary responses to abnormal occasions or events.
Human beings are social animals. So, individuals thrive on social interaction. But this pandemic has resulted in, social isolation, uneasiness or anxiety, fear of contagion, vulnerability, chronic stress and economic difficulties that may lead to the growth of stress-related disorders and suicidal tendencies in weak or vulnerable populations including those with prior psychiatric disorders, low-resilient person, individuals who reside in high COVID-19 prevalence areas and people who have a relative or a companion who has died of COVID-19; are known to raise the risk for suicide. People may be more likely to experience these feelings during a crisis like a pandemic. Social isolation adds to the pathophysiology of mental issues and self-destructive conduct.
When this pandemic will be over i.e. post pandemic, individuals could be seen dealing with mental health issues more because of the feelings and emotions that people had been dealing with when the COVID-19 crisis was extreme. The main area of concern for them would be around how to adjust to the new normal and start all over again with their lives like before by being calm and less stressed or anxious about it. Also, lastly if you find any of your close and loved ones dealing with any of the mental health issues; first of all, please make them aware about it and then help them to seek out professional help. Professionals i.e. psychologists and psychiatrists are there to help you in a way in which you can’t help yourself but it will only be possible when you are willing to accept and change how you feel.
Always remember it’s okay to feel what you are feeling and its okay to talk about it rather than hurting yourself!
Break the sigma because you are not ALONE!