Coronavirus disease or COVID-19, as it is known as taken the world in its clutches with the number of infected crossing the mark of 460,000 and that of dead 21,000. One-third of the world has been put under strict lockdown in a bid to tackle the disease which has no cure or vaccine.
In a situation, where almost all of the population is confined to their houses and doctors and healthcare workers are risking their lives while treating the affected, mental health suffers in an unexpected way.
With the number of cases increasing every day and easy access to the latest news, it is normal to feel anxious and panic. The disease is likely to affect not just the physical health of the people but also mental health. There is a growing threat of stress, panic, and sleep disturbance affecting the population. Anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, severe phobias, and PTSD may also be likely to grow among the people already suffering from mental health problems.
The most affected by this pandemic are the doctors who are working long hours and with next to no means to deal with the novel disease. The fear and anxiety of treating people with a disease that has no cure and which is yet not entirely understood can get surmountable.
Another major cause of stress and panic is misinformation and rumor-mongering. When a piece of inaccurate and unverified news starts making rounds among the general masses, the resulting situation becomes very difficult to deal with at times.
It is, therefore, very important to take care of mental health as well. WHO recommends that even though we all should stay at home and away from crowds to contain the disease, we must socialize with our friends and family regularly. Staying connected and sharing your thoughts, fears, and anxiety can help one a lot in dealing with the stress of the situation.
One should be aware and informed of the situation and how to protect oneself and those around from COVID-19, but one must avoid reading, listening or watching the news that causes one extreme stress and anxiety. It is important to maintain a regular routine in which you are physically active as well. Exercising and eating healthy can help in dealing with stress by increasing the level of dopamine and serotonin.
People must find opportunities to amplify positive stories and means to keep themselves busy and support one another in dealing with not just the disease but also the isolation that is accompanied with it.
Covid-19 is not just the test of technology and doctors but also of people as a whole. This disease has brought us closer and together this can be overcome. Scientists and doctors are doing their bit by working towards handling the disease and finding a cure for it. We must do our bit by staying home and by extending our support globally to prevent this disease from becoming a mental health epidemic as well.