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Mental Health Issues During or Due to the Pandemic!

When times of uncertainty like this; fear, worry, stress, fatigue (mental & physical) are normal responses to real threats/ perceived stress. Hence, it is completely understandable that people are experiencing fear in the context of this period, during a lockdown. As all efforts are focused on understanding the epidemiology, clinical features, transmission patterns, and management of the COVID‐19 outbreak, there has been very little concern expressed over the effects on one's mental health and on strategies to prevent stigmatisation.


Quarantine and self‐isolation can most likely cause a negative impact on one's mental health. The separation from loved ones, loss of freedom, boredom, and uncertainty can cause a deterioration in an individual's mental health status. To overcome this, measures at the individual levels are required. Under the current global situation, both children and adults are experiencing a mix of emotions. They can be placed in a situation or an environment that may be new and can be potentially damaging to their health.


Stress during the pandemic can cause:

· Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration

· Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests

· Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

· Difficulty sleeping or nightmares

· Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes

· Worsening of chronic health problems

· Worsening of mental health conditions


Following are few of the mental health concerns that an individual goes through during pandemic:


I. CHILDREN:

Kids can experience anxiety, distress, social isolation, and an abusive environment that can have short‐ or long‐term effects on their mental health. Not all children and parents respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes in children's behaviour can be:

· Changes in eating habits

· Difficulties with concentration and attention

· Excessive crying and annoying behaviour


II. ELDERS AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AT RISK:

Physical isolation at home among family members can put the elderly and disabled person at serious mental health risk. It can cause anxiety, distress, and induce a traumatic situation for them. Elderly people depend on young ones for their daily needs, and self‐isolation can critically damage a family system. The elderly and disabled people living in nursing homes can face extreme mental health issues. COVID‐19 results in increased stress, anxiety, and depression among elderly people already dealing with mental health issues.

Family members may witness any of the following changes to the behaviour of older relatives;

· Irritating and shouting behaviour

· Change in their sleeping and eating habits

· Emotional outbursts.


III. STIGMATISATION:

Everyone may feel differently and have a different welcome by society when they come out of quarantine. People who recently recovered may have to exercise social distancing from their family members, friends, and relatives to ensure their family's safety because of the unpredictable viral nature. Previously infected individuals and health professionals (dealing pandemic) may develop sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones may have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with them.


IV. HEALTH WORKERS:

Compassion fatigue syndrome may result when you are emotionally or physically depleted from caring for someone who has experienced physical or emotional stress. This is a common issue with many first responders and those who regularly work in helping or healing field. Physical symptoms include headaches and lack of sleep and cognitive symptoms includes decreased satisfaction and isolating oneself is a behavioural symptom. Identify the changes you can make like: delegate the work where possible or ask for help. It’s important for front line workers specially to set work- life boundaries. Have time allotted for your basic needs.


Thus, It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. “Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient”.

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