COVID-19 Lockdown and Its Impacts on Mental Health

Posted on : May 27, 2020 by Clinic One on COVID-19

COVID -19 pandemic has severely affected the socio-economic and mental health status of people around the globe due to lockdown and uncertainty of eradication of the virus in the future.

COVID-19, a novel disease outbroke from a city of Wuhan, China in December 2019 has been spreading all over the world making it a pandemic. So far, the latest data retrieved from World Meter on 26th May 2020 shows that the total number of COVID-19 cases globally has reached up to 55244477 causing the death of 347079 with the recovery of 2315441 people (WHO).

In Nepal, the spread of the virus has been increasing rapidly with positive cases above 700 and the death of three people until 26th May 2020, Source: Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP).

The virus that causes COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales. The droplets are very heavy to hang in the air, and they quickly fall on the surfaces. One can be infected by breathing in the virus if s/he is within close proximity of someone who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then his/her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Despite the extension of the lockdown for two months, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Nepal has threatened the livelihoods of people affecting various socioeconomic aspects such as education, occupation, social relation, physical and mental health conditions.

Adaptation Approaches During COVID-19 Lockdown and Its Effects on Mental Health

To cope with the pandemic situation, several schools and universities have been conducting virtual classes to deliver the lectures. Likewise, people employed at various organizations (public and private sector) are working from home (WFH) remotely.

It is a good approach, however, WFH may not be suitable for all organizations based on the nature of their work and further, working efficiency and deliverables might be lower via WFH than attending in school and office physically.

Various studies showed that people who are quarantined are very likely to develop a wide range of symptoms of psychological stress and disorder. Moreover, these days, people are inducing a considerable degree of fear, worry, and concern due to the uncertainty of lifting lockdown by the Government of Nepal (GoN) and the time frame for complete eradication of virus to return to normal life. 

Extension of quarantine and lack of knowledge and awareness to cope with COVID – 19 has resulted in various mental health disorders for diverse groups in the society such as older adults, care providers, and people with underlying health conditions.

Common Effects of COVID-19 Lockdown on Mental Health

The most common mental disorders are low mood, irritability, stress, anxiety, insomnia, emotional exhaustion, anger, depression, and posttraumatic stress symptoms.

Low mood and irritability specifically stand out as a very common problem in the studies. In cases where parents and children were quarantined together, the mental health toll became even steeper.

More than 28% of quarantined parents justified a diagnosis of “trauma-related mental health disorder” in one study.

Key reasons for stress thrive in lockdown are risk of infection, fear of becoming sick or of losing loved ones, as well as the prospect of financial hardship. Anecdotally, in many developed countries, the police call-outs for mental health emergencies are going up and the number of suicides along with domestic violence is also increasing.

Even those people who were not in need of mental health support may seek out for support in the future because of the effects of social isolation. People are becoming more depressed as well because of inactivity. 

How to Reduce the Mental Effects Caused by COVID – 19 Lockdown?

There are various measures one can do to get relieved from anxiety and distresses

  • Lessen watching, listening, and reading to news about COVID-19 that leads you to feel anxious or distressed; get up-to-date at specific times during the day only once or twice.
  • The sudden stream of news reports about an outbreak leads one to feel worried so only focus on facts; not rumors, myths, and untested hypothesis;
  • Attend different webinars and awareness campaigns related to the mental health so that you can somehow get knowledge regarding various measures to decrease the stress and anxiety; avoid news that bumps you to sudden anxiety or distress;
  • Meditation, exercise and doing yoga really helps to reduce stress and anxiousness and also increases positive vibes in an individual;
  • Read positive and hopeful stories of the people who have recovered from COVID- 19, their experience related to love, affection, and care are given to them by different health care workers and their loved ones during the period of infection till recovery.
  • The government should also give more emphasis on the mental health of its citizens by educating people about the expected psychological impact and reactions to trauma if they are interested in receiving it and sure people understand that a psychological reaction is normal. 

Most of all, people must be aware that those who are affected by COVID-19 have not done anything wrong, and they deserve our care, compassion, and benevolence.

When it comes to offering psychological support to their populations, most countries react very late, as they were to the novel coronavirus. Better late than never. 

By Shital Gautam 
Vaccination In-charge/ Registered Nurse Clinic One
27 May 2020 

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