Karachi: Humankind across the globe continues to suffer as the coronavirus continues to impose a worldwide lockdown. While physical health is the top priority at this time, it is imperative to understand the not so obvious impact of the COVID-19 crisis on mental health.
By Sonia Sameen
Talking about mental health continues to be a taboo across many cultures, including Pakistan. Medical News Pakistan recently organized a live session with two renowned experts, Dr Mowadat Rana,Chief editor of the Journal of Pakistan Psychiatric Society, Chairman, The Healing Triad-Pakistan, Honorary Chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Adjunct Professor at University of Health Sciences, Lahore and Dr. Madiha Ashraf Khan, M.D,Consultant Psychiatrist at Family First medical Center and Specialist psychiatrist at American Wellness Center, UAE to shed some light on the topic.
Dr Mowadat Rana spoke about psychosocial care during the COVID-19 lockdown. We must first understand that these are extraordinary times. Every incident of our lives is marked by a starting and finishing time. The COVID-19 pandemic is not a condition that will persist forever; however, the enemy we are facing right now is potentially fatal and thus very dangerous.
Human beings are programmed to adjust to their circumstances. At this time, it is important to not just focus on the enemy but also our strengths and capabilities. Denying the presence of this very real threat is not the solution nor is the contrasting feeling of constant fear and paralysis, said Dr Rana.
It is imperative to focus on your physical health at this time. Focus on your diet and introduce exercise in your daily routine to stay active. When it comes to mental health, it is important to stay engaged at this time via learning. Keep your children involved in the process as well, he advised.
Familial relationships are under a significant threat at this time as well. Understand the importance of space. Social distancing is a misused term. I think physical distancing is a better-suited term. Be sure to be emotionally supportive of one another, stated Dr Rana.
The Exclusive Live Session with Dr Mowadat can be watched here
Meanwhile, Dr Madiha Khan who was speaking live from UAE noted that anxiety is fairly prevalent as most of us continue to dwell in uncertainty. Working from home is not easy. The work-life balance is also completely off the rails for many. People are more moody and irritable, which is a perfectly normal presentation at this time.
Cases of depression will report a rise as well as will incidents of drug abuse. Domestic violence and child neglect and maltreatment are also important to consider. Homemakers are the most prone to experiencing burnout, as things might get very overwhelming for them. It is important to ease the mind right now, she stressed.
Most of us are not considering health professionals at this time as well. They are already exhausted, both physically and emotionally. The situation is comparable to a soldier during the war. They are traumatized and overloaded while simultaneously being subjected to stigma, which may take a further toll on them. We must empathize with their struggles as well. They need our support and our appreciation during these challenging times.
Reassurance is the key here. We must provide people with validation that they are not alone in this struggle. Everyone is fighting their battles, and it is important to stick together and give each other hope.
Try to focus on your diet, as well. Get in touch with a professional if you feel like things are exceeding your control. I would advise people to refrain from exposing themselves to unreliable information that may potentially do more harm than good. If you have queries, consult professionals for help, she concluded.
The Exclusive Live Session can be watched here.