COVID-19 impacts on mental health, and how to protect yourself

There is a strong link between mental health and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which had a psychological and neurological toll on everyone, albeit to varying degrees.

Actually, people who contracted COVID-19 or were placed in isolation hospitals are the most impacted, and the most dangerous thing is that the effect of psychological imbalance lasts for long periods and may extend beyond the end of the pandemic itself, according to several studies.

Study shows that a third people who recovered from COVID-19 suffer from mental disorders

Scientists reported that one in three recovering from COVID-19 suffered from psychological stress or disorder within six months. The study which was conducted on more than 230,000 patients, mostly Americans, indicating that the pandemic may lead to a wave of mental and neurological problems.

The researchers who conducted the study said it was not clear how the virus was linked to psychological problems such as anxiety and depression, but these two symptoms were among the most common disorders out of 14 they investigated.

They added that cases of stroke, dementia and other neurological disorders were much rarer in the post-COVID-19 stage, but they still exist, especially among those who had severe symptoms.

“Our results indicate that neurological and psychiatric disorders are more common after COVID-19 than influenza or other respiratory diseases,” Dr Max Taquet, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow, who conducted the analyses, remarked.

Taquet explained that the study did not identify the biological or psychological mechanisms behind the phenomena, adding that further research is urgently needed to identify them.”

Health experts are increasingly concerned about evidence of an increased risk of neurological and mental health disorders among those recovering from COVID-19.

A previous study by the same researchers last year showed that 20% of COVID-19 survivors developed mental disorders within three months.

After analyzing the medical records of as many as 236,379 COVID-19 patients, mostly from the United States, the new findings, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, found that 34% had developed a neurological or psychiatric illness within six months.

In the study, 17% of patients suffered from anxiety disorder, as they were worried about recovering from the virus, while 14% had mood disorders, making these two symptoms the most prevalent in survivors.

They were followed by substance misuse disorders (7%), and insomnia (5%). The incidence of neurological outcomes was lower, including 0.6% for a brain haemorrhage, 2.1% for ischaemic stroke, and 0.7% for dementia.

“Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial for health and social care systems due to the scale of the pandemic and that many of these conditions are chronic. As a result, health care systems need to be resourced to deal with the anticipated need, both within primary and secondary care services,” said Professor Paul Harrison, lead author of the study, from the University of Oxford, UK.

Most common psychological impacts 

Scientists and psychiatrists emphasize the need to pay more attention to one’s mental health in light of stressful or anxious times. Feelings of fear can cause panic among people, thus, it is essential to follow the advice and adopt positive measures that can contribute to the mental health of individuals.

Many doctors have indicated that the impact of corona on mental health is no less dangerous than the actual infection.

Anxiety Disorder

Although, anxiety is a normal emotion, as the brain’s way of reacting to stress and alerting you of potential danger ahead. However, anxiety disorders are different. They’re a group of mental illnesses that cause constant and overwhelming anxiety and fear.

They are divided into several types, varying in severity, the most common theme is the growing sense of worry, tension and a constant feeling of imminent danger, in addition to many other physical and psychological symptoms. During the pandemic, it is natural for anxiety to spread, as people constantly worry about getting infected or losing a loved one.

Depressive Episodes

Depression is one of the most common impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. The global crisis carried several factors that may cause depressive episodes, the most important of which was the lockdowns, that obligated everyone to isolate and stay at home for long periods.

Also, the continuous exposure to psychological and nervous pressures due to the general atmosphere. The economic consequences of the pandemic, which caused many people to lose sources of income, which reflected negatively on their personal lives, must not be overlooked.

Hut Syndrome

Experts have been speaking about the hut or prisoner syndrome, which has become a rather widespread condition, due to the lockdowns. Hut syndrome is a psychological disorder that results mainly from social isolation for a long time, and the sufferer faces difficulty returning to their normal life.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder is among the psychological problems that have been common in the recent period as a result of the pandemic. The results of a recent research study conducted at the University of Copenhagen showed that 96% of seriously ill hospitalised patients with COVID-19 infection exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Behavioral Addiction

The issue of behavioral addiction can not be ignored when we tackle mental health amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown has led some to engage in addictive behaviors that may have a negative impact in the long run or after the pandemic has passed. One of the most prominent manifestations of pandemic impact on mental health in this regard is Internet addiction. and related activities and practices such as addiction to electronic games.

Substance Use and Addiction

Several experts indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for people with substance use disorders and in recovery. The stress, and depression, as well as the economic and social consequences of the pandemic, are all factors that may lead some to alcoholism or drug abuse. They also represent a serious threat to the recovering patients and making them more vulnerable to relapse.

How to protect your mental health

Experts recommended several ways to cope protect your mental health, the most important of which is to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media.

According to the US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting.

-Consider limiting news to just a couple of times a day and disconnecting from phone, tv, and computer screens for a while.

-Take good care of your body. This can be achieved through meditation, stretching, and regular exercise. Also, eating healthy and well-balanced meals, as well as getting plenty of sleep.

-Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.

-Continue with routine preventive measures (such as vaccinations, cancer screenings, etc.) as recommended by your healthcare provider.

=Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when available.

-Connect with others, talking to people you trust can help. Keep in regular contact with people close to you. Tell them how you are feeling and share any concerns.

-Create a new daily routine in line with home isolation procedures, such as using time for distance learning or completing homework deferred if possible. However, don’t expect too much of yourself on difficult days. Accept that some days you may be more productive than others.

-Talk about COVID-19 anxiety and express your feelings, as suppression of feelings is one of the main causes of psychological distress.

-Ensure that you regularly practice any of your favorite activities, whether technical, athletic or otherwise, while taking all necessary precautions to combat the transmission of the virus.

-Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you think you need it. A good place to start is your local health worker. Help-lines can also be a source of support.

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