Psycho-social impact of covid-19

It is known to all that on 31 December 2019, a novel viral pneumonia originating from Wuhan, China was announced to the WHO. As of now the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread across the globe infecting approx. 4.26M people in 187 countries, killing around 297 K  individuals. In India the figures too are no less devastating. The virus has affected approx. 74,281 people, killing around 2,415.

Since then changes to daily life have been really swift and unprecedented, as cases surge and death toll escalate.

Although people are now well aware of the measures to be taken to deal with this deadly monster, thanks to social media that has acted in for both creating and diminishing panic and fear among the masses.

Apart from all this, the bitter reality is that it is no doubt a frightening time for everyone. We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic with cities and even entire countries shut down. Some of us are in areas that have already been affected by this virus, while some are bracing for what may come. People are obsessively checking news and then wondering what is to happen next.

For some people the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus is the hardest thing to handle. We don’t know how it will impact us or will it get better or worse with time.

It is known that tragedies, particularly those relating to the infectious diseases often trigger waves of heightened fear and anxiety and are capable of causing massive disruptions to the behavior and psychological well-being of the population. The same is being seen with this virulent creature. Studies have shown that the people whether susceptible or not are developing severe psychological conditions including DEPRESSION(50.7%), GENERALISED ANXIETY(44.7%), INSOMNIA(36%).  At the urging of public health officials, large public gatherings all across the globe have been cancelled, obsessive hand washing is all but mandatory, people are scared of their own selves, too conscious to sneeze or cough and much of the world is in an uneasy state of lockdown which has no doubt added up to the anxiety of the population. The concept of social distancing has attained such a horrendous face that people are now scared to go near their families or touch them which has affected the kids especially, who are all unaware of the present scenario, doctors who are considered as the saviors are scared of the patients that has caused a number of other health issues to worsen, the pregnant ladies are kept unattended that has led to the death of the mother and the child. What can be worse than this! But all the blame can’t be put on the doctor. The anxiety has taken hold of all, whether it is a common man or a HCP. They too are embroiled in this anxiety state. Scared, anxious and insomniac weeks before their duty.

Such is the plight of the people, difficult to explain demanding to handle.

If not the pandemic for now, but some simple measures can definitely be taken by means of which the anxiety and panic among the peoplecan be combated.

1. Trying to convince oneself that it is ok to have anxiety and that we are not alone.

2. As scary it may seem, facing our fears will provide a sense of relief.

3. Be easy on oneself.  Understating the fact that some days will be worse than others.

4. Learning and practicing to calm and center oneself.

People need to understand that they are already in the midst of a difficult situation and being anxious will do nothing but add up to their misery.

Azra Bhat is  4th year student, MBBS