Stress, Anxiety and Depression: Covid-19
Author: Palvi Ravinder Kumar
Throughout the World, the spread of Coronavirus infection has been extended. The World Health Organization declared it as a pandemic a public health emergency of International concern on 30th January 2020. India is struck with its second wave of Covid-19 now, though the public is being informed about the physical effects of the infection and how to prevent exposure to the coronavirus and manage any mild symptoms at home. However, along with this, no one is talking about the adverse effects of this pandemic on one’s mental health.
The rapid transmission of coronavirus led countries to announce a sudden regional lockdown to stop the further transmission of the disease. Lockdown resulted in isolation, social distancing, closure of educational institutes and workplaces made people stay at home to break the chain of transmission of coronavirus. However, these restrictive measures have negatively affected the mental health of every age group whether it is child, teen, adult, or elder. The studies have shown a higher level of stress, anxiety depression, and poor quality of life during the Covid-19 crisis in different populations. According to a survey, every 4 in 10 people are dealing with anxiety disorder. The fear of getting coronavirus and separation from loved ones has created stress and depression-like situations among the people during the lockdown. This respective article is going to provide an overview of the negative effects of the Covid-19 outbreak on the mental health of people in India.
Effect of Covid-19 on Children and Adolescents:
India was under Lockdown since March 24th, 2020 by keeping watch on the rapid spread of coronavirus infection, though there was given the ease in the lockdown from September 2020; However, Educational Institutes were remained shut and Online classes took place of regular classroom teaching. This situation of staying at home and not going out has caused a lot of psychological distress in children and teens. Some common changes in Children’s behaviour were seen such as excessive crying and annoying behaviour, difficulties with concentration and attention, changes in eating habits, avoiding activities that they enjoyed in past, increased sadness and worry. Teens are experiencing acute and chronic stress, frustration, and depression because of parental anxiety, disruption of daily routines, increased family violence and home confinement with little or no access to peers, teachers and, physical activities.
Effect of Covid-19 on Adults:
During the lockdown, Adults were mandated to stay at home or quarantined instead of going to work. Many studies have reported a negative psychological effect of quarantine on adults. The reports have shown a sudden increase in domestic violence and child abuse incidences in midst of the covid-19 crisis. During this period many lost their jobs and small businesses, which directly had an impact on their mental health. People staying at home without any jobs or source of income experienced stress, depression, and suicidal behaviour. The Underprivileged and vulnerable population was affected a lot during this period whether it is economically, socially, or mentally. There have been several stressors that have caused distress amongst the adults which are Quarantine, Pay cuts, unemployment, uncertainty, fear, violence, abuse, etc
Effect of Covid-19 in elders and people with disabilities:
According to medical experts, elderly people are more prone to covid-19 infection due to having a weak immune system and underlying heath conditions. Physical distancing and self-isolation can critically damage a family system for elders as they are dependent on the young ones for their daily needs. Physical isolation at home among family members has put the elderly and disabled person at serious mental health risk, it has caused anxiety, distress and trauma like situations for them. The elderly and disabled people living in nursing homes have faced extreme mental health issues. The most common behavioural changes shown by them were irritating and shouting behaviour, emotional outbursts, and change in their sleeping and eating habits during the lockdown.
The Front line or health workers such as Doctors, nurses, and paramedics are more likely to get mental health symptoms, the reasons could be fear of catching a disease, long working hours, patient load, unavailability of protective gear, supplies, and effective medication for covid-19, social distancing, and isolation from their family and friends.
During this period, Stigmatization has become very common. People who are recently released from quarantine, recovered from covid-19 or Health workers working in the hospitals may have experienced social distancing, changes in the behaviour of family members, and stigmatization for being suspected of carrying covid-19. Due to these sudden behavioural changes, they may develop sadness, anger, or frustration-like symptoms.
The present mental health situation requires raising awareness in public, which can be helpful to deal with it. The Government needs to take further steps to help people dealing with mental sickness due to the pandemic. To help children and adolescents dealing with stress and anxiety, parents need to remain calm and deal with the situation wisely. Parents can take time to talk to them about the covid-19 crisis, encourage them to take part in some healthy activities and some physical and mental exercises. The healthy relation of parents with their children can help to reduce stress and anxiety. The adults coping with mental illness can take part in few mental and physical exercises such as Yoga and Meditation, follow a scheduled routine, spend some quality time with family, talk to some good old friends, take a break from social media and give some time to your favourite hobbies. This can help to overcome mental health issues and bring relief.
The elders and physically disabled needs extra care during this time, the younger family members should regularly check on older people, spend some time to talk to them, and should involve in some of their daily routines. Health workers should take short breaks between their working hours and deal with the situation calmly. Just don’t put extra effort into yourself and try to remember “We’re all in this together” at the forefront.