For more than a year now the country is bearing the wrath showered by COVID-19 killing numerous innocent people. The second wave of COVID has only magnified the trauma, sufferings and fear of the third wave. As of now, everyone is suffering in some way or the other.
Scientists around the world are constantly working to create vaccines as effective as possible, apart from improving the ones already launched.
But it’s only this COVID-19 pandemic that everyone seems worried about, entirely overlooking an older and larger epidemic of Mental Health Disorder or Depression.
COVID-19 is not just a pandemic, it’s much bigger than that! It is taking a heavy toll on mental health and magnifying suicidal impulses in common men.
Fortunately or unfortunately, today we are living in a society where even the decision to take or not to take the COVID-19 vaccine also driven by political and non-scientific drivers. For treating depression, there isn’t much hindrance except the fact that people do not accept that they too could be the patient while denying its existence.
People do not want to understand that depression might not kill you in days or weeks like COVID, but living with it is no fun and the more you stay away from treating it, the more it’ll keep pushing you to kill yourself, one way or the other.
It is wrong to say that COVID-19 and Depression are not related to each other.
What I’ve been through...
Let me share an anecdote.
In the first week of April, I got my first jab of the COVID-19 vaccine. The second wave was very widespread and devastating, I too got infected and by 26th April I had complete symptoms. I consulted a member of ours who is part of the COVID Task Force in Kanpur. He asked me to immediately start taking the medicines he suggested. Instead of asking someone else to bring medicines for me, I myself went to a nearby medical store. While going there, the railway crossing was closed and traffic was stranded. What scared me while waiting for the crossing to open were the 5 tractors carrying dead bodies for cremation in Bithoor. Later, while returning from the medical store, I again witnessed 4 tractors with dead bodies turning towards Bithoor, and this gave me a shock. I had seen 9 dead bodies in just a matter of not more than 15 minutes, as the medical store I purchase medicines is hardly 1.5 km from my place. I returned home virtually depressed with the sense that I am myself infected and the way people are dying, I also might die. I cried even more lying on my bed as I live with my old aged parents who both are heart patients, so I couldn’t share with them what I was going through.
I am falling short of words to express the severe depression I had in quarantine, practising social distancing and isolation, without any contact with any family member and friends.
Although am fully recovered now, but numerous men suffered from unemployment and financial struggles due to the lockdown. Unnecessary views from self-proclaimed experts pressing their political ideology spreading unending rumours, resulting in lack of personal freedoms, stigmatisation of getting infected, death of loved ones due to COVID and uncertainty of how the virus would play next and what could happen next to us and near and dear ones took a heavy mental toll in men.
With my experience what I have realized is that to win the battle against COVID-19, we must address the rising mental health distress amongst ourselves, our parents, family and children.
Mental Health disorder - Know the Symptoms
In today's time of the pandemic, we must be cautious and alert if someone shows symptoms of mental health issues. Though fear and anxiety, in general, are among the wide range of feelings or reactions for anyone in these times, still we should take care if someone shows any of the symptoms listed below.
Abnormally overwhelmed or feeling stressed.
Feeling anxious, worrisome, or fearful about own or that of some loved ones health.
Sudden change in eating and sleep patterns.
Difficulty in concentration.
Loss of interest, tearfulness, sadness in activities otherwise enjoyed.
Physical symptoms such as an upset stomach, increase in heart rate, fatigue.
Restlessness or agitation.
Constant feeling of helplessness and having trouble relaxing.
Feeling disconnected from others.
Fear of going to public spaces.
Worsening chronic health issues.
Worsening mental health conditions.
Enhanced usage of alcohol, tobacco or other substances.
Fear of being infected and infecting others.
Magnification of symptoms like cough or fever.
How do we cope with the situation?
Agreed that the COVID recovery rate in our country is around 97%, still one must understand that you are not alone.
Staying at home for some time can be quite soothing, but, in the long run, can also be distressing. So, one must try to keep positive and cheerful.
Always consult a psychologist without hesitation, if you notice symptoms.
Must remember that a healthy mind is a key in these difficult times to win the battle against the pandemic.