Psychological effects of COVID-19 taking toll on mental health

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: Current year has not been an easy one since the novel coronavirus has hit the world abruptly. It has taken its toll on almost all aspects of common man’s life and that of global economies. Finances, business markets, health and education systems, everything has been interrupted badly however, the most important yet less talked about impact of coronavirus is mental health issues that the novel virus has brought along.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, however, their bodies’ responses towards stress are almost the same. The psychological impacts of Covid-19 have been drastic mainly because the medical world has put all its focus on finding the vaccine and unknowingly ignored the negative mental effects caused by the disease.
It is evident that because of the spread which was followed by the global lockdown, there are a number of people affected by various psychological ailments such as anxiety, stress and depression. Talking to reporters, Dr. Imtiaz Bukhari, who has been practicing psychiatry for 33 years, said the situation erupted followed by global pandemic and then lockdown was a totally novel phenomena and thus it brought unique mental health conditions along.
“Most recently, I have had patients with anxiety in higher numbers. It was usually because they either have this fear of getting the virus for them and their loved one or one of their relatives, acquaintances’ death from the virus had made them depressed”, he said.
Dr. Imtiaz said those who had fear of contacting the virus were higher in number hence they had anxiety followed by depression.
“It was rather important to provide them with mental health care because it is about overall health and wellbeing. It affects not only how we think, feel, and act but also how we react towards stressful situations and make choices during an emergency”, he added. Another clinical psychologist Sidra Shouakt told reporters that as a psychologist she was faced with another unique challenge which was helping the patients with their post corona interaction with the public.
“I had a patient who recovered from coronavirus and wanted to start his normal life after being quarantined. However, it was his office that told him to extend his leave a little longer as they were concerned about others’ well being. My patient was disheartened and got depressed with this tabooed attitude of his colleagues.
Major preoccupations, for instance fear of death, feelings of solitude and annoyance, stigma, mass hysteria, panic and xenophobia and common mental disorders like anxiety and depression can occur among masses especially among those who are quarantined”, she elaborated.
She said taking care of one’s emotional health was important even post lockdown situations because a tabooed attitude towards those sneezing or coughing could still be seen. These kinds of situations create an awkward environment and cause anxiety in people.
“Those who are more vulnerable emotionally should take a break from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including those on social media.
Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting as news of a second wave of coronavirus in the country were also in circulation, she suggested. Besides, the health of the general population, COVID-19 pandemic has also affected the frontline health care workers. As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, health care professionals (HCPs) are facing immense strain due to the heavy load of cases.