Thursday, 16 April 2020

Mental Health nad Covid-19

The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The COVID-19 is affecting 203 countries and territories around the world, more than 2,216,228 cases of the COVID-19 virus have been confirmed worldwide with more than 151,006 deaths as of April 16th.
Pakistan is no different in this case, In Pakistan, the pandemic has taken the lives of 135 people, and the total number of confirmed cases mounted to 7,025, and graph is increasing exponentially. Keeping rising cases in view, Country went into lockdown to stem the spread of the virus, with authorities advising people to avoid social gatherings. However, nobody is giving importance to the consequences of the self-isolation.
As human beings are social creatures and social isolation is something unfamiliar and new, therefore a significant amount of the population is finding it difficult to adjust to this new situation due to the loss of control. Isolation means there is no easy access to everyday necessities, and this social distancing can have severe implications on mental state that can lead to a chain of intense and unhealthy feelings, especially over long periods of time.
Those who struggle with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. and COVID-19 can add to one's "typical" levels of stress and worry. Fear of the unknown and uncertainty over how long we’ll have to resort to limiting our daily lives, fear of contracting the coronavirus or even worry about how this will affect one's financial situation are legitimate concerns. But it’s important to know that we are all in this together. There are millions of people who are worried about the same thing and feeling the effects of COVID-19.
A study Research in The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that depression is associated with exposure to infectious diseases. We don't yet know what the mental health impact of the coronavirus will be. But based on past research we could anticipate similar effects related to COVID-19, where increasing numbers are being exposed to the virus and many more are making drastic changes in their lives to try to slow its spread. Reactions to the crisis can include feeling overwhelmed, fearful, sad, angry and helpless, according to experts. Some people may have difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Fear of contact with others, travelling on public transport or going into public spaces may increase, and some people will have physical symptoms, such as an increased heart rate or an upset stomach. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for people,”
The hashtag #stayathome has become a widely-used slogan on social media. Groups created for the people to share views and feelings about the situation and other similar kinds of interactions can help as it creates bonding and comforts the people that share similar issues. However, such groups can have a down side to them as well due to spreading of misinformation which is a cause of fear, anxiety and depression. The resultant stress can contribute to the manifestation of anxiety disorders. The information overload through social media, including misinformation, “posed a major risk to public mental health during this health crisis”.

Misinformation on COVID-19 is another virus.

The 24/7 media coverage of COVID-19 pandemic has added to the already heightened levels of stress, anxiety and isolation, and there are myths circulating on social media. One of them claims that if you hold your breath for ten seconds without coughing, discomfort or tightness you do not have the coronavirus. This is completely false. And then there's this one: If the coronavirus gets in your mouth, "drinking water or other liquids will wash them down through your esophagus and into the stomach. Once there in the tummy ... your stomach acid will kill all the virus." Again, this is completely false.
Severed depression sometimes leads towards suicide and this is evident in cases of COVID-19 outbreak. For instance, German Finance Minister, Thomas Schaefer committed suicide worrying about the economic fallout due to the virus. In other cases, a suspect of the virus is reported committing suicide from hospital building and in their apartments
In light of these cases, The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged that the crisis is generating stress, and has advised people to avoid watching, reading or listening to news that causes feelings of anxiety or distress.
Therefore, firstly we need to give our nervous systems breaks and enjoy activities that will reduce our stress levels.
Secondly, maintain a healthy and normal schedule for eating, sleeping, and activities. Avoid eating lots of junk food. In this case one should take Vitamin D as much one could, as it can improve both our immunity and our mood.
Thirdly, engage yourself in physical activities such as, making small home improvements can also help us feel empowered and provide a healthy reduction in news consumption.
Fourth, it is high time to revive the reading culture as It’s a great time to finally get to the books you usually don’t have time for.
Fifth, adopt other means of interacting with your loved ones while staying away from them. Social media is of great help as you can nowadays contact easily using social media applications. Make it a habit to contact at least two people a day. You will feel better, and they will feel better.
Sixth, as most gyms and fitness facilities are closed during this time, it is important to get into a habit of exercising at home. Just because you are stuck at home doesn’t mean that you can’t continue working towards your fitness goals. This will help in improving your mental health in the depressing situation of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Last but not the least, continue your previous sleep pattern. Do not start sleeping in and binge-watching shows to stay up late into the night. Stay motivated towards something. If you can work remotely, that is great. If you are currently displaced from a job, think about what you would like to improve upon, create, or learn about. Some boredom is inevitable, but you don’t have to just accept it.
Studies show that altruism can increase our own sense of well-being as long as we aren’t overwhelmed by helping. Altruism can help us feel compassion and reduce our social fears. It can distract us from our own problems and remind us to feel grateful for what we have. Consider ways that you can help others at this time.
In a nutshell, as we are all in this together. Pandemic like this do occur from time to time throughout the world. Actual chances of becoming infected are very small if you take common-sense precautions.

By : Sadia Satti

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