In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new Corona Virus, COVID-19, a pandemic. This means the new virus was infecting a lot of people worldwide, at the same time. There are lots of psychological effects of COVID-19.
This is a crisis unlike any other, at least tracing back to the last 100 years. This time of crisis is generating stress throughout the population due to the rate of infection, the novelty of the disease, paucity of test kits, and no definitive treatment options.
Moreover, The COVID-19 control measures taken by the government can have negative impacts on our mental health and well-being.
There are a lot of things that can affect our mental health and well-being during this lock-down – fears of running out of food, fears of running out of necessities, infection anxiety, constant reassurance-seeking behaviors, emotional eating, sleep disturbance, excessive worry, feelings of helplessness, stress over debt, job insecurity and updates on the news that can be fear-inducing.
Possible Psychological Effects
Just as with other pandemics, the COVID-19 pandemic creates panic and chaos. This threatens the coping resources of an individual. The COVID-19 situation feels out of control and many people may feel it is taking away the control over their lives. This can feel frightening and unbearable.
Mild stress over extended periods can develop into serious long-term mental health challenges. These long-term mental health challenges can be evident in depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Likewise, there is also the risk of increased alcohol intake, drug abuse and smoking.
Overeating can also be used as a coping strategy, thus, positioning oneself for possible body image dissatisfaction.
There is an increase in abuse. In the US, the police reported an increase in calls concerning domestic violence. Besides, there is an increase in violence and hate crimes that is evident in various cities across Nigeria, and the rest of the world.
There is also the possibility of an increase in child abuse. Child abuse increases a child’s tendency of becoming an abuser, experience PTSD, depression and other developmental difficulties. Parents are stressed, and may find it difficult to manage stress and cope during this period. This lack of ability to deal with stress increases negative psychological effects in both parent and children.
Who Is More At Risk
While anyone’s mental health and well-being can be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, lock-down and uncertainty, there are a few people more at risk of the psychological effects of COVID-19.
- Individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions tend to have increased symptoms and difficulties getting medications, or opportunities to visit their therapist.
- Health workers, especially health workers on the front-lines, quarantined, are at increased risk.
- Individuals who have friends or close relative that had contacted the disease are more at risk. They may experience survivor’s guilt. Survivors in a family may experience guilt, and are thus considered at high-risk for mental stress.
- Individuals who are being treated for COVID-19 are at increased risk of PTSD and depression.
- Individuals with pre-existing routine such as school runs, work. When ones’ routine is broken, there are psychological effects attached.
- Expectant mothers may be particularly concerned about the well-being of their babies and the effects the infection may have on the fetus and are more prone to the psychological effects of COVID-19. Mothers may develop anxiety or depression during pregnancy or postpartum. In Nigeria, an NGO is providing free screening and treatment options to mother, reach out to them. Mothers can also learn self-help tips to keep them going.
- Teenagers on the verge of their independence, are prone to breaking quarantine and may experience increase addiction to the internet or psychoactive substances (such as alcohol or marijuana).
- Individual with wider healthcare gaps in the society
- Individual not able to get tested and lacks diagnosis even when they show symptoms.
While only a small amount of us will come down with COVID-19, we are all affected psychologically.
There are lot of reasons why we do not seek help or myths around mental health challenges such as depression. It is important to consciously take care of our mental health during this period. It is okay to seek help if you need help coping with the psychological effects of COVID-19. If you stay in Lagos, Nigeria, we got you covered.
Online consultations provide feasible psychological care for the possible psychological effects of COVID-19.
You can also request for a face-to-face option. We are committed to providing the complete gear for your protection.
Resilience training has been scientifically proven to help people manage stress.
Remember, stay safe and stay mentally strong. Yes, the psychological effects of COVID-19 can be managed.
Until I come your way next time, remember, better day tomorrow.