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Mental Health in the times of COVID-19

Oct 4, 2021

Covid-19 has disrupted health services across the globe. While everyone is well aware of its physical manifestations; mental challenges related to this virus and its subsequent aspects such as lockdowns and isolation have been quite prevalent too.

Dhani’s Senior Strategist, Prakhar Khandelwal spoke to Dr. Bir Bahadur Sinha about this situation, who helped us in understanding the issue at hand more deeply. Dr. Bir  - MBBS, PGD (Mental Health), PGD (Community Mental Health), MBA (Hospital & Healthcare Management) is a Senior GP with us at Dhani. He is also a life member of the Indian Psychiatric Society. He has several years of experience including at AIIMS, Delhi and has special interest in Mental Health and General Medicine.

PK: One of the effects of COVID 19 that is being widely discussed is its impact of mental health. Could you tell us something about this? 

Doc:- Mental health concerns in the population remain a vastly under-recognised problem. It is recent times that there is awareness of mental health issues and people are talking about it which s a good development. With COVID 19 and the pandemic, mental health concerns have been amplified due to two reasons – one is the effect of the illness itself on the people who have suffered from COVID 19 and then the issues that have come up due to the restrictions or lockdowns that have been imposed and what it has meant for a lot of people.

PK: Could you tell us about the effect of COVID on mental health?

Doc:- Post COVID syndrome is now a recognised condition with effects on multiple systems including mental health. After recovering from COVID, many people complain of lingering effects for quite some time and these may include symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic fatigue and pain and so on. One has to understand that that people who received treatment in hospital for COVID did not have the same support from family and friends as they would have had in any other time due to the restrictions- this itself has an impact of their mental health. People who did not suffer from COVID too, nevertheless, have seen a lot of friends and family members being affected- this too has a bearing on anxiety and stress levels.

PK: You mentioned about stress and anxiety being a concern- could you tell us about this? What should we look out for?

Doc:- Stress and anxiety can manifest in a lot of ways. There can be feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration. A person may notice changes in their appetite, energy, desires, and interests. There can be difficulty in concentrating and making decisions, difficulty in sleeping.

Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes can also be noted. If a person already has some chronic health problems or mental health issues, we may note a worsening in this. In some cases, there may be increased use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances too. A person may present with a few of some of these symptoms- not all will be present in everyone.

PK: Dr, could you also now tell us what we can do deal with this? 

Doc: There are a few things that we can do on a regular basis to manage stress and anxiety. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It is good to be informed, but constantly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting. Limiting use of screen time and gadgets is also important. One should take care of one’s body by eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep and avoiding excessive alcohol or tobacco use. One should get routine preventive health check-ups done in consultation with your doctor so that any major ailments can be screened and managed early. It is important to make time to unwind and try and do some other activities you enjoy, connect with people. Yoga and meditation help a lot people and one can try this too.

If one has clinical symptoms of anxiety in spite of trying to manage by self, please speak to your doctor. There are many modalities to help someone out like counselling, behavioural techniques, medications and your doctor or mental health will be the best judge of what will work best for you. It is important to remember not to let things slide for very long, just as in the case of any physical ailment.

PK: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Doc:-Thank you for listening. If you have any more questions / queries, do get in touch with a doctor on the Dhani app. On Dhani app, you can get connected to a doctor over a video call in just 10 seconds. 200+ Doctors are available 24×7 to assure your well-being. If you still haven’t, download the Dhani app today and get unlimited free consultations for 30 days

If you have any health-related queries, do write to us at zone@dhani.com or leave us a DM on any of our social media handles. We will make sure to address your questions in our next session.

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