COVID-19 is anxiety-provoking for patients, non-patients, carers, and healthcare professionals due to its infective potential, the uncertainty of manifestations and prognosis, restrictions imposed by the Govt. leading to dysfunction in social, occupational, psychological, familial, economic and other domains. The anxiety is compounded by rumors, flooding of information in the media and internet, changes in daily life and routine, economic instability, discrimination, stigma, feeling of alienation, and guilt. The last three factors are faced by patients and their relatives.
Anxiety is generally characterized by worry, brooding, fear of getting infected or infecting others and can be manifested by nervousness, being jittery, having tremors and palpitations, chest discomfort, and breathing problems.
In extreme cases, people may suffer from depression characterized by low mood, tiredness, pessimism, poor sleep, and appetite, feeling helpless, guilty, and hopeless, with a gradual reduction in work output. Older people are more vulnerable, and special care must be taken for them.
Anyone who feels upset or has the above symptoms may contact mental health professionals like psychologists or psychiatrists. Being aware, accepting, and having the insight that one has psychological problems is the first step and must for therapy. Talking with a professional, maintaining routine and healthy lifestyle, taking a healthy diet, avoiding taking of tobacco and drugs, participating in creative activities like music, singing, writing, painting, dancing are helpful in coping with anxiety. If one is very vulnerable and upset, restriction, or stopping access to electronic media, the news is useful. The information must be gathered from credible sources.
Most of the COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic, the majority have mild problems and get improved. Unnecessary panic must be avoided. One must be looked at the current scenario in a positive manner by thinking that chances of getting an infection are very very low and simple steps like wearing masks, social distancing, and hand washing is enough to prevent infection. Be alert but don’t panic.