Kathmandu, March 29
People have started saying they are facing anxiety and fear as the number of COVID-19 cases has started increasing.
Also the lockdown in the country has been having an effect on their mental health.
People are stressed and are afraid of their daily lifestyle and health.
There is psychological stress in people.
“I feel palpitation when I am watching news of people suffering due to coronavirus. I get irritated over trivial things. I have throat pain and I feel I have COVID-19 though I have no contact with foreigners or close contact with other people,” said Dil Keshwari Maharjan, a resident of Satungal.
It has been difficult to pass the time during the lockdown. “There is uncertainty among people. People are likely to suffer from anger, frustration, headache and irritability,” said Anjan Kumar Dhakal, clinical psychologist, who is also a lecturer at Tribhuvan University.
“When I watch videos about the infection rising globally, there is a kind of fear in me. As my siblings are abroad I have also been calling them once a day. I try to relax by dancing and doing the things that I am interested in,” said Nil Keshwari Maharjan, another resident of Satungal.
“I have started becoming more curious when a new person enters my home. I fear I may contract the infection.
I have been tense in the past few days. While watching news I feel a kind of coldness. As we are not economically stable there is fear looming large about how to get basic household items,” said Sajani Rijal, a resident of Swoyambhu.
Mental health workers say that people suffer from confusion, fear, sleep and eating disorder, sadness, boredom and numbness, among other problems, in this situation.
Also, people feel stressed about being away from the family because of this lockdown and the virus spread.
“There is a feeling of uncertainty in me about tomorrow. There is stress over buying basic household items,” said Anit Pandey, a resident of Swoyambhu.
People are likely to get stressed about inadequate supply of food, medicines and other basic amenities.
“Daily wage earners can become victims of mental health problems as they don’t have option at the moment,” said Dr Ritesh Thapa, consultant psychiatrist at Rhythm Neuropsychiatry Hospital and Research Centre.
Mental health problems can also be seen in children. “They could fear infection. As they are not going to schools and are continuously watching news about the number of cases and deaths they could suffer from psychological disorder. Therefore they need to be given proper information about the situation and counselled,” said Dr Thapa.
There is mental stress in health workers. They can be stressed about transmitting the disease to their family members, according to the mental health workers. “There are chances that they quit their job,” said Dr Thapa.
Mental health workers said mental health problems can aggravate the condition of those who are already taking medicines for mental problems.
“People can indulge in smoking, tobacco and alcohol consumption,” said Dhakal.
They suggest that people should cope with the current situation. “People should connect with one another through phone calls but should limit social media contacts. Negative news should not be shared. Updating news once a day and not changing one’s food habit will help. Meditation, relaxation exercises, and creative works such as music, song and gardening can be done to avoid boredom,” suggested Dr Thapa.
A version of this article appears in print on March 30, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.
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