Covid-19 and psychological effect

Fatema Miah, Solihull, UK

The Psychological effects of Covid-19 is causing global loss. We are therefore collectively experiencing loss, and there is fear of further losses. The fear of financial survival of keeping meaningful employment or income alive. Also, there is fear about our relationships surviving, and many of us are fearful around self surviving. Whether it is COVID-19 or other physical and psychological conditions, the burden on global healthcare systems at the moment means that staying well is far from certainty. This experience of ongoing fear can become traumatic.

As I initially wrote Covid-19 is affecting mental health. This pandemic is proven physically and mentally exhausting due to the competing demands that it places on our bodies and minds. Dr Stubley, Head of the Tavistock Trauma Service explains that, “Our responses to fear and threat involve both the mind and body and so making divisions between the two unhelpful. Fluctuations in attention, mood, energy, or sleep difficulties are far from being all in our head.” How majority people are reacting in lockdown situation as such, as what commonly, in response to threats, something called the fight-or-flight, when human body goes into fight response.

Majority people are responding in a disappointing manner to Covid-19 and have taken lock down in a negative way. Both Covid-19 and Lockdown, has been adding to stress. And its effecting particularly mild to moderate mental health conditions relating to depression and anxiety, such as panic disorder, a single depressive episode, or generalised anxiety disorder. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for instance, is characterised by ritualistic behaviours or compulsions, (checking or washing) that neutralise the threat of unwanted intrusive images, ideas, or fears. Some of the compulsive behaviours seen in individuals with OCD sit at the extreme end of a continuum of adaptive responses to threat.

Checking and washing are not random behaviours. They are precisely the responses we have all been told to engage in to prevent the threat of infection. Here patients with an existing diagnosis of OCD are easy to react to the calls for increased cleanliness, distancing and avoidance, which are seen as adaptive responses to the crisis. It is important to state that while aspects of this condition can feel relatable, the unique challenges faced by individuals with OCD, and other mental health conditions do ultimately lead to distinctively distressing experiences. Where someone with OCD, thoughts about washing do not stop once the tap is turned off. The intensity potentially adaptive responses, or the relationship is distressing, rather than the response itself. The Covid-19 is intensifying the condition.

Whereas sadness, anger, and panic are three completely appropriate emotional reactions to the uncertainty and exposure to threat that people currently experiencing. These are unpleasant states that people may wish to avoid. These are intensely terrifying states that are embodied reminders of unsafe experiences or memories. This can be for a range of reasons, including previously upsetting or traumatic events. Most people have coping strategies to avoid feeling vulnerable. People ‘keep busy’, or ensure they are always working towards to next goal or achievement. The problematic way, people may use drugs and alcohol or avoid intimate relationships.

Those people find certain emotional states difficult, feeling them during this difficult period can bring on that same fear response they heard about before. Currently, there are fewer opportunities for distraction or avoidance. Thus, some people have a double threat, an external fear of the virus, also the internal threat of unfamiliar bodily changes that are signs of the onset of emotional vulnerability. Covid-19, being a pandemic, it is affecting people and human being are responding with some level of stress more or mild. There was “panic buy”, and I did panic fasting to please God the creator at the first stage of breaking out of Covid-19.

As respond to the threat of COVID-19, human adapt automatic responses to threats of increased mental distress. Dr Jo Stubley discusses trauma, and said, “Mental health conditions can be on a continuum with adaptive responses. Things become more complex when, for individuals with OCD or other mental health conditions, COVID-19 seems to confirm an existing belief or idea about the world. ‘See, I told you it was unsafe’. People of post trauma affected as circumstances exacerbate their symptoms. People with severe mental illness are marginalised at the best of times and so may experience even more disadvantage. Three generations, due to Covid-19 are under stress, prone to mental health illness. For mental health and psychological impact on people who have had COVID-19, those who have or had Covid -19, anxiety will escalate rapidly with concern and fear.

Fatema Miah, Solihull, UK

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