Will COVID-19 affect our Psychology?

The writer is a physiotherapist.
By: Syed Zain ul Abbas

On last Saturday, after delivering my online class, I shut down my laptop and rushed towards my mother as she was waiting for me on lunch. I sat beside her to start my afternoon meal. Before I could start eating, my mother asked me to check her blood pressure. It was more than a normal physiological limit. It was not today. As usual, it was not normal since last one week, despite taking her regular Antihypertensive medicines. I tried to enquire what kind of stress she is taking. While watching a show of a renowned anchor she replied when this disease is going to an end? What will happen to this? The news circulating on electronic and social media about corona made her depressed, I guess.

Increasing the surge of domestic violence I asked to myself where she would go amidst lock down if you made your house unfit for living. While reading a daily newspaper something revealed upon me that it is not only my homeland but almost every country have same scenario. Where going outside is prohibited due to lock down as you can become a victim of virus on the other hand while residing in house can also make her to suffer.

Lockdown generated the eviler conditions for the women being maltreated by their spouses.

Quarantine have been made by countries for those affected from virus,  It is urge to make Isolation places for the domestic violence victims also.

Domestic violence is defined broadly in each of these laws, I would say. It includes physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal and also economical abuse. It covers domestic relationships and that includes your spouse, siblings, your parents, etc.”

Psychologist explains a condition after either observing or experiencing any threatening incident as mental condition known as Post traumatic stress disorder.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.

Now a days, information regarding covid-19 spread like a bullet, thanks to many self-confessed health workers and charlatan. They add salt to the injury by spreading false piece of information regarding the origin, cause and the treatment of this deadly disease. On every occasion or event few words blowout from nowhere like on every ‘Eid we had received text from our dearest one starting with “auspicious event” often “propitious” and many more. This covid-19 also came with some new lexicons that spread faster than actual virus like Quarantine.

Amidst lock down my question is “Are we prepared for Post-COVID effects.”

Pandemic according to WHO is a large-scale epidemics afflicting millions of people across multiple of countries, sometimes spreading through a globe. Pandemic are associated with some stressors including health threat to one self and beloved ones. It may be routine disruption, isolation from families and friends, closure of work places and school, shortage of food and medicines and protective kits. Families can become half-starved if the breadwinner of the family is suffering from that disease or not earning due to lock down and if no one is available in a house to cook. In aforementioned conditions they can also suffer from financial hardships despite being malnourished. Pandemic related stress including financial stress is severe as disease itself. Over the past century the note able and most popular pandemics which caused varying degree of contagiousness and mortality were HIV/AIDS, Spanish flu, Russian flu, swine flu and the Zika virus.

The sky is witness of events full of devastation that engulfed millions of people. Including visible (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and invisible (Pandemics). Did those events impact the life of people of that region? If yes, then in what ways? On 10th anniversary of Iraq war an article published by an Assistant Prof of a well-known institution of London on the topic “The psychological effect of Iraq war” stated about psychological after life of Iraqi people after wars. War situations generate memories and lesions that outlive the wars themselves. Their images and sounds persist in art, economics, politics, and private lives through multiple generations. If we give a glance to the post WWII effects among Vietnam veterans, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can be seen among them. A research published by investigators of Emergency Psychiatric Service, of medical center at California, reported that the subjects were suffered from alcoholic addiction, anxiety, mental illness and depression after war. They also reported that they avoided the war reminder because symptoms exacerbated with aide memoire of wars resulted in chronic anxiety, agitation, edginess and restlessness.

Invisible weapons also did not fail to affect the psychology of social animal. Numbers of patients suffered from mental illness who was hospitalized amid influenza virus following the pandemic in Norway. In addition Spanish flu survivors complained sleep disturbance, misery, depression, inability to cope with their work and mental distraction among US citizen. Individual behavioral variations, such as fear-induced aversion to workplaces and other public congregation places are a chief source of negative shocks to economic growth during pandemics.

To overcome all these conditions and to mitigate the situations, keep these things in mind. Make sure to have valuable required information from a reliable source, nor more nor less. Do not go after the report of number of deaths, it is not like football match that you want to know the final results. Don’t search excessively on internet as it can affect your mental health. Prevent yourself from forwarding messages full of fear and hopelessness as we all have different thinking ability. Arrange recreational activities for your children, talk to them and listen them as well. Follow all the guidelines by WHO. Stay positive, it will make your immune system strengthen and avoid negative feelings, it weaken your immune system. Above all these believe in ALLAH. One day when you will wake up this virus will be no more. By HIS grace we will be safe from this virus.

Stay positive! Stay Home! Stay Safe!

The writer is a physiotherapist and is currently working as a lecturer at University of Lahore.