Keeping Mental Health in check during the PANDEMIC

Dishaa Sinha Mental Health

The ongoing pandemic has changed everybody’s life to a great extent. We are facing new challenges everyday, even for minor day to day tasks. People’s education, career, almost everything is in hold and they don’t know what the future holds for them. This is a time of uncertainty. Uncertainty can lead to a lot of problems as we tend to get fixated at it and continuously think about it which becomes very tiring and time consuming. Evidence suggests that intolerance of uncertainty is linked to numerous psychological conditions, including depression and eating disorders.

The safety measures taken by the government like social distancing, lockdown, etc are keeping us safe from the virus but it has left us feeling isolated and lonely. It has made us change our lifestyles and in the process, many of us have taken some unhealthy habits to cope with it. There’s also a possibility that it may have triggered already present physical or mental health conditions.

Lately, many people have been experiencing symptoms similar to that of Clinical Depression. The symptoms are: 

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

If you or someone you know have been experiencing this for most of the day nearly every day for at least two weeks, you may be depressed. The other possibility is that you are experiencing CoronaBlues. 

Now the question is how to differentiate between the two?

A simple trick can help you with it. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a place where everything is back to normal, do you still feel the same way? If your answer is no then what you are experiencing is mostly corona blues. It is situational depression which means once the situation changes, the depressive symptoms will go away too.

Recently, Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra and Mahindra tweeted where he talked about the huge gap between demand and supply of therapists during these tough times where everyone is facing several psychological issues because of the problems and stress that came with the pandemic. He said that there is a pandemic hidden within the pandemic, ie, MENTAL HEALTH. In 2020, when everything opened again after almost 6 months of lockdown, people started again to build what they have lost and cover their losses. The year 2021 was the ray of hope for them but the second wave of the Coronavirus shattered all their hopes.

The time requires all of us to be vigilant about checking ourselves and the people we know for early signs of mental illnesses. 

India accounts for 36.6 per cent of suicides globally, and suicide has surpassed maternal mortality as the leading cause of death among women and teenage girls aged 15-19 years. 

In the year 2020, there were online news media reports of 369 cases of suicides and attempted suicides during COVID lockdown vs 220 reports in 2019 and a 67.7% increase in online news media reports of suicidal behaviour, according to a research from the International Journal of Mental Health Systems.

The time is challenging and difficult but it will pass too. There are some healthy coping strategies that you can try to deal with it like: 

  1. Checking in on your loved ones regularly or if you are the one going through something, talk to someone about it.
  2. Change your lifestyle and try to bring some order in it. You can make a timetable or schedule all your activities to lessen the mental burden a little bit.
  3. Exercise daily
  4. If these strategies don’t seem to work for you, reach out to a professional. You will find many experienced counselors and therapists offering online counseling to people.
  5. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone you’re concerned about whether they are having thoughts of suicide. Asking someone about suicide is not going to put any ideas in their head. If they’re thinking about it now that means that they were already thinking about it. Asking can save a life.