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KARACHI: “It is a completely different world we are living in now, restrictions, social distancing, series of lockdowns, increasing numbers of deaths, loss of jobs/incomes and socio-economic impact of pandemic has a correlation with the increasing number of mental health. According to the survey results collected from different parts of the world, during the lockdown and pandemic, anxiety percentage increased from 6.33% to 50.9%, depression 14.6% to 48.3%, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 7% to 53.8%, psychological distress 34.43% to 38%, stress 8.1% to 81.9%”, said Dr Afzal Siddiqui, Consultant Psychiatrist Camden Primary Care, Mental Health Network London. He was talking about the “Impact of Covid-19 on Mental Health” organized by Ziauddin University during the first webinar of psych live webinar interactive series titled “Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health”. The aim behind this online session was to enhance the knowledge and understanding of mental health especially in the time duration of pandemic and lockdown.

While talking about the symptoms of depression and anxiety, Dr Afzal Siddiqui said, “There are three core symptoms: A depressed mood, lack of pleasure and interest in things they usually enjoy, decreased amount of energy for longer than two weeks, as well as other things like feeling of guilt, loss of self-esteem, pro concentrations, sleeping difficulties, changes in appetite are the symptoms of depression to look out for.

“Going to work and being a professional at this time has been completely changed. High rate of staff sickness is leading to gap in service provision and to staff redeployment in unfamiliar acute services. Also, the new risk to physical health, threats to survival and encounters with death is leading directly to levels of fear and anxiety which challenge the ability to think. Organizations should understand the impact of working during a pandemic on employees and try to address work related stress and ways to alleviate stress in the workplace”, he added.

Shedding the light about medical management of mental health disorders during the pandemic Dr Pia Ghosh, Consultant Psychiatrist Eating Disorders, Vincent Square Central & North West London Trust carried out by saying, “As a psychiatrist it’s been understood that if a person has a strong bonding with his/her psychiatrist the chances of recovery are a lot higher and it is being affected now due to the pandemic. The access to psychological therapies is present but has changed and become quite digital; therapies are going on but in a virtual way. Psychotherapy, group therapy, self-harm therapy, frequent episodes of suicide attempt all these therapies are happening in a virtual sitting.”

Talking about the Self-help tools of mental illness she further said, “You can reduce stress by quitting drinking and smoking, try mindfulness, it is effective in reducing anxiety and stress. It is very important to have regular breaks, physical activities including exercise, swimming, walk, eat well, sleep well, connect with friends and family (virtually), be kind and compassionate with yourself and others because the more we invest in our own mental health now the more resilient it will be for the years to come.”

“A mental disorder may be present when patterns or change in thinking, feeling or behaving cause distress or disrupt a person’s ability to function. Mental health has also affected the practices because we have witnessed a lot of doctors and nurses with the high quality of anxiety, depression and symptoms of PTSD because they all are working in quite unusual, difficult and challenging circumstances”, she answered about the question on mental health in practice during the pandemic.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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Impact of Covid-19 on mental health highlighted

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