Impact of COVID-OMICRON on Psychological Health
The COVID-OMICRON outbreak and the subsequent restrictions have caused significant distress in the general population in many countries and resulted in various psychological problems in the caregivers. The impact of Covid-Omicron on Psychological health of people includes –
In situations of uncertainty, people tend to get anxious about the problems quite quickly. Various literature shows that it was not only COVID-OMICRON patients but also the general population and the health care workers who experienced mental crisis. The prevalence of anxiety has increased in all the groups compared to the pre-pandemic situation. Impact of COVID-OMICRON on Psychological health of patients is the fear being stigmatised in society and experience guilt for spreading it in the community. Health care workers are anxious about acquiring the infection from the patients, and the excess workload also deprives them of sleep, rest and appropriate nutrition. Simultaneously, the general public experiences alteration in the lifestyle due to imposed infection prevention and control measures, leading to anxiety.
While anxiety to the pandemic situation is a normal response, too much anxiety can start to cause harm. It is advisable to seek help in case of excess anxiety. Friends and family play an essential role in providing mental support.
Depression is one of the common mental health issues faced in today’s world. In all the previous pandemic situations, a rise the prevalence of depression was documented, and the COVID-19 pandemic was no exception to that.
Masks on everyone’s face are a symbol and a constant reminder of the deadliness of this disease. It also negatively impacts many people. Consistent and repeated alarms about the COVID have increased the fear among the general population.The COVID appropriate behavior to prevent the spread of diseases, such as lockdown, quarantine, and isolation practices, have also installed fear.
Lockdown has caused a severe economic crisis in many countries. It has affected the daily income of many people and leads many families into poverty and hunger. Quarantine and isolation have kept people away from each other, thus depriving them of a social life. This loneliness is also a prime cause of depression.
Engaging in communication with friends, family, and other social groups can make one feel less isolated.
Pandemic situations are likely to disrupt the everyday lives of people and not everyone takes up these lifestyle changes casually. Any deviation from everyday life leads to altered mental status in many individuals.
Public health interventions that are essential to control the spread of infection have also isolated the people. Many are experiencing increased stress due to this. Stress leads to increased fear, anger, sadness, or frustration, Changes in appetite, and interests, Difficulty concentrating and making decisions, difficulty sleeping, physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes, worsening of chronic & mental health problems and Increased in substance abuse.
There are specific ways to deal with stress, such as increases physical activity, eating a healthy diet, avoid watching excess news channels on COVID situations, talking with a loved one, and connecting with the community via social media. Talking with your friends and family will reduce your stress levels and alleviate their fears and anxiety regarding the situation.
• Sleep deprivation
Sleep is an essential part of a human life. During the times of pandemic, it becomes much more essential in terms of both quality and quantity, as it has several mental and physical health benefits. Lack of sleep and poor sleep quality can seriously impair the psychological functioning of the people and affect their decision-making process. It can also jeopardise the people’s immune response and render them more susceptible to contracting the virus and developing the disease. Lack of sleep was found to be the second most common psychological problem during this pandemic situation.
Sleep related problems during a pandemic should not be ignored as it can lead to some serious consequences in their future. Poor sleep quality or insomnia during a pandemic can lead to future risk of obesity, cardiovascular & metabolic conditions, cognition and mood disorders, and can even lead to suicidal ideation and death.
Combination of this stress of widespread infection, abrupt stop in the social interactions and disruption in the daily routines might have dramatically affected the people’s sense of well-being and security and influenced the sleep disturbances.
• Social Stigma
Personnel working in hospitals in times of pandemic often experience stigmatising attitudes from the general public. Most may experience hurtful social distancing at their place of residence, local groceries or place of worship. Friends and relatives may show reluctance to interact with them. There have been instances of landlords denying residential accommodation to healthcare workers. In rare cases, there can be concerns about physical safety.
The organisational leadership should not be dismissive of these aspects and ensure the safety of their staff. They should encourage staff to remain connected to their friends/family through digital methods. Policymakers should implement local programs of “honouring front line personnel” and acknowledge their role using various media platforms. All staff should be sufficiently informed on means to access mental health and psychosocial support services if required.
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