Impact Of COVID-19 On Mental Health And Tips For Coping

ApnaComplex is conducting a series of webinars in partnership with The Times of India. These webinars are exclusive only for members of societies using ApnaComplex. In these webinars, health experts speak on various health and wellness topics to increase awareness and impart knowledge.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our daily lives as our movements were restricted that forced us to stay at home to curb the spread of the virus. And as we were all cooped up in our homes, we have been facing with new realities of working from home, job losses, online classes, and limited socialising. All of this had a disastrous effect on our mental health which further gave rise to mental health problems such as stress, depression, and anxiety, among others.

Several studies conducted by researchers showed that the major health problems reported were stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, anger, denial and fear during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even COVID-19 related suicides have also been increasingly common.

Highlighting on the issues concerning mental health and creating awareness about mental health problems Ms. Arti Shroff, a Psychologist who has specialized in Clinical Psychology spoke to us on Mental Health During These Trying Times.

Here are some important questions answered by her during the webinar.

  • How has the pandemic affected people of different demographics?

Different demographics have been affected very differently. Due to the pandemic and the restrictions imposed, children have not been able to have a healthy discharge for all the enormous amounts of energy that they have and as the schools are closed children are struggling to adapt to the new form of online learning. This adjustment has caused an increase in anger issues and disobedience among children.

Also, increased screen time is giving rise to mobile addiction and doesn’t help in managing stress levels and contributes to disturbed sleep and agitation among children.

Parents should provide a very healthy and constructive outlet to their children by providing a structured routine to help manage their emotions and stress. Parents should keep their children engaged in household chores instead of them playing violent video games.

Highlighting on the issues concerning mental health and creating awareness about mental health problems Ms. Arti Shroff, a Psychologist who has specialized in Clinical Psychology spoke to us on Mental Health During These Trying Times.

  • How has the pandemic affected adults?

For adults, it is the biggest challenge as juggling between working from home and managing the household has become tough. And finding difficulty in coping with it gives rise to increased feelings of depression and anxiety.

On the contrary, older adults, as called the geriatric population have not been negatively affected with mental health problems as compared to other age groups.

  • Have there been any peculiar observations regarding mental health problems among people during the pandemic?

People have reported high stress levels, sleep disturbances, vivid bizarre colourful dreams and nightmares, which has been linked to underlying mental health problems like anxiety.

Ms. Arti Shroff advised getting a good night’s sleep for minimum 7-8 hours, using less screen time at night, avoiding any psychotropic substances like drugs or alcohol consumption as it can aggravate the condition of having disturbed sleep or nightmares.

  • Common myths of COVID-19 and mental health

Getting excessive information from various sources may not necessarily be accurate. And an overload of this information leads to anxiety, uncertainty, and poor decision-making.

One of the common myths of COVID-19 related mental health is using mental health terms like anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, OCD very broadly. It is important to properly differentiate between a mental health condition and what we are adjusting to in the current situation in terms of the necessity of taking up the precautions.

  • How to deal with suicidal behaviours during the pandemic?

High mortality rates and rise in covid cases can create a lot of trauma among people and this can trigger suicidal behaviours in individuals. Job losses, sudden changes in circumstances, increased feelings of uncertainty, increased isolation, lack of support and engagement are other factors that can also trigger suicidal behaviours.

Bullying, abuse, grief, illness, prolonged injury, and perceived public humiliation can also trigger suicide.

Identification and prevention is the key in managing individuals who are suicidal which is why it is important to have an open conversation about it to someone whom you can trust.

There are suicide helpline numbers that are 24/7 that provide free services and access to mental health professionals. It is important to seek immediate assistance from a mental health professional if you or someone you know is showing signs of suicidal behaviour.

  • What are the signs of suicidal behaviour?

Withdrawal, sudden aggressiveness, consuming drugs or alcohol, causing self harm and being impulsive are some of the behavioural signs. Feeling of worthlessness, hopeless, sad, depressed, anxious, angry and numb and in some rare cases, feeling very happy and relieved are also some signs of suicide.

Saying negative statements like ‘I don’t want to be here’, ‘Life is not worth living anymore’, ‘Nobody cares about me’, ‘How would it matter if I’m here’, ‘Soon my problems will be over’, or ‘The world is better off without me’ and talking about death are some signs of suicidal behaviour.

  • Ways to reduce stress and keep yourself calm

There are some ways to reduce stress and keep yourself calm, these include:

  • Relaxation techniques like listening to music and meditation help lower stress levels.
  • A healthy daytime routine which includes having meals on time and exercising daily can help regulate the body’s biological clock.
  • If you are having a lot of nightmares, think of a happy ending or use visual imagery for positive things like colours or elements of nature or people that you like.
  • Avoid alcohol and other addictive substances.

You may experience stress, fear, depression or anxiety during this pandemic. Ms. Arti Shroff has suggested some tips to help us cope through difficult emotions and also built our resilience towards problems.

Tips to follow to cope with the pandemic

  • Regular physical activity to help manage stress and uplift your mood.
  • Greater connectedness. Staying socially engaged can reduce the risk of being in a prolonged state of isolation as being in isolation increases the risk of several mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, among others.
  • Practising compassion and awareness to ourselves and others.
  • Create healthy boundaries.
  • Engage yourself in a hobby or leisure activity such as listening to music, cooking, etc.

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Stay safe. Stay happy