LONG LASTING EFFECTS OF A PANDEMIC ON MENTAL HEALTH
Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Everybody has a different story to tell as to how the virus is hitting them emotionally, physically, socially, mentally, and of course financially.
Almost hundred years ago a #pandemic had hit the world with the most serious consequences it could bear. We all have heard of it, seen pictures of people at that time. It had changed the way people used to live. It had affected everyone’s life in a different manner. Ever in our wildest dream had we thought that we could also witness the same situation? No, it’s difficult to even imagine but now we are living it.
Our generation has witnessed a global pandemic and gradually it is unfolding its consequences for all of us.
Most affected of all are the #frontline workers who are directly exposed to this deadly virus. They are risking their lives every minute just to save ours. Daily we see a new rise in the number of people affected by this virus. This has for sure created a lot of panic and anxiety among people. Everybody has a different story to tell as to how the virus is hitting them #emotionally, physically, socially, #mentally, and of course financially.
A lot of #mentalhealth professional from around the world are showing concern for the future effects of this pandemic on our mental health. Everybody is suffering on some scale physically and financially and this in turn is affecting their mental health adversely. We may not recognize it now but this situation is draining all of us from the positive resources we had in store. Let us look at some of the possible future consequences of this pandemic on our mental health.
#PANIC AND #ANXIETY: Today’s situation is such that all of us have a fear of stepping out of home. We do not want to meet people and even if we meet, we do so apprehensively. This panic of contacting a disease has resulted in social anxiety and fear. In future there would be an escalation in this panic and anxiety as feared by many psychologists. They have suggested that people may have a fear of going out, meeting their friends and family, buying groceries and more.
#STRESS AND #DEPRESSION: There are different kinds of stress which we all are experiencing these days. Stress of social distancing, stress of managing work and home, stress of losing a job, stress of contracting a virus, stress of studying and giving exams online, stress of business falling out, stress of financial assets. These stresses are piling up and ultimately may lead to depression. Psychologists are estimating a sharp rise in the cases of depression in the coming years.
#POSTTRAUMATICSTRESSDISORDER: PTSD develops when a person experiences a traumatic event and finds themselves affected by it years later. According to the American Psychiatric Association, people with PTSD may experience strong thoughts or emotions long after the event. They may relive the traumatic event through nightmares or flashbacks, and they may find themselves feeling anger, fear, or sadness.
People who have contracted the virus have chances of developing PTSD. Unfortunately there is a lot of stigma attached to this disease just because the way it spreads. People who have contracted it may feel guilty of spreading it to others. This will result in a steep rise of stress that will continue even after they get over the disease. Apart from the ones who have contracted it, the ones who have lost their loved ones may also likely to experience the symptoms of PTSD in future.
#STIGMA : This disease and the way it is spreading has unfortunately created a lot stigma among people. People who have cough or are sneezing are looked down upon. This should not be case, but it is happening. People don’t want to touch each other and are exchanging stuff with a lot of apprehension. This stigma in turn is causing stress, shame, and depression among people, specially the front line workers who have more chances of contracting the virus.
#STRESS AND #ALCOHOL : A lot of people who drink alcohol may find themselves drinking more in the quarantine period. The rise of drinking and smoking habits of people can be attributed to the stress they are experiencing. While at home, when there is nowhere to go and nothing to do, people would drink more and more to relieve their stress. This would also give rise to domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse.
#ISOLATION : while we are sitting at home we may be connected with everybody virtually but we are all cut off physically. This is specially the case with office going people who are working from home and children who are studying online. Specially for school going children, who are conditioned to follow a set routine of going to school and coming back and sleep, it is very difficult to figure out the whole process of online schooling. They may feel isolated for not meeting their friends on a regular basic, and going out to play. This sense of isolation is very stressful for them to handle.
Now that we are aware of some of the possible long term consequences of a pandemic on our mental health we must not forget that it is in our hands to take care of it. At this critical time, the most important thing we need is to have resilience. We must be self-aware of our emotional state and pay attention to what our mind says. We must remain calm, accept whatever it is, build positive social relationships with our family members whom we are spending most of our time with, and with lots of time in hand we must practice our skills. These small #copingmechanisms can help us in not falling prey to the stress and anxiety.
Rather than depending upon substances like alcohol and caffeine, people should be practicing positive coping habits like exercise, yoga, meditation, and other skills which they like. These practices would engage them in a positive way and would divert their minds from the negative practices.