COVID 19 - its Psychological Impact & Management

By Masooma Qayyum | June 2020

Introduction:

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is defined as illness caused by a novel coronavirus now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2; formerly called 2019-nCoV), which was first identified amid an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

It was initially reported to the WHO on December 31, 2019. On January 30, 2020, the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global health emergency.

Symptoms:

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.

1. Fever/Dry cough
2. Aches and pains
3. Sore throat
4. Diarrhea
5. Headache
6. Loss of taste or smell
7. Rash on skin, or dis-coloration of fingers or toes
8. Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
9. Chest pain or pressure
10. Loss of speech or movement

On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.

More than 4.8 million people have been affected by this global pandemic and the number is increasing day by day which is alarming for the world to function in a proper order. More than 14. 6 million people have been recovered yet thousands deaths are been declared on daily bases which is creating an environment of fear and anxiety, worry and concern in the population at large

Stress/ Anxiety is rapidly increasing as the death rate is elevated and governments are taking all the measures to control and curb this pandemic

Quarantine has also affected the people in negative way and it is expected that level of loneliness, stress, depression can be increased in coming days.

Psychosocial support will be an utmost need of society after and during the eradication of this pandemic, following are expected psychological problem which will be intended to work upon:

1. Stress Reactions
2. Anxiety
3. Grief
4. Post-Traumatic Stress disorder
5. Depression

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include

● Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
● Children and teens
● People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
● People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use

How to Manage?

In these critical times, it is very important to manage our stress and worry to have a healthy and better mindset/ approach that we can deal with this pandemic

These are some ways that can be used to cope with the stress and control the situation

● Take breaks from watching, reading, listening to News/ Media. Limit your family exposure to news coverage of the event including social media.
● Give time to yourself e.g; Read Good Books, Listen Music, Meditate, Do activities you enjoy.
● Eat Healthy, Exercise Regularly; Get Plenty of Sleep.
● Spend time with your loved ones, Don’t spread fear and anxiety.
● Take care of your physical and mental health.
● Talk to the people whom you can trust. Contact your friends and family.
● Don’t Use smoking or any other substance to deal with your emotions.
● Get the facts, Gather information that will help you accurately determine your risk so that you can take reasonable precautions.
● Give proper attention to your thoughts, Notice and try to validate your thoughts.
● Spend your time in constructive activities which help you to decrease the worry and tension yet also help to learn a skill.
● Have positive attitude and Focus on the things you can control.
● Practice breathing & Relaxation exercises to de-stress yourself.

Seek additional help of a professional mental health care provider or a counselor to deal with your overwhelmed thoughts and emotions such as fear, stress, anxiety, grief & depression.

You can expect your current strong feelings to fade when the pandemic is over, but stress won't disappear from your life when the health crisis of COVID-19 ends. Continue these self-care practices to take care of your mental health and increase your ability to cope with life's ongoing challenges.

Remember it’s a global issue and we all are in this together; can fight this pandemic with better/healthy approach, following proper physical and psychological protective guidelines given by WHO such as social distancing and by practicing self-care routines.