Published on July 4, 2021

Part of Mindemic series

AHMEDABAD: At Jeevan Aastha helpline (1800 233 3330), a 37-year old man called in the month of May. The caller was straightforward and told the counsellors that he wanted to end his life as he felt worthless and had no hopes that things would take a positive turn.

“Upon talking to him, we got to know that his woes had started in 2020 when he had lost his job during the lockdown. In the past one year, the situation went from bad to worse as he had to feed a family of five on meagre earning. His wife is also seven-month pregnant now. Due to his economic condition, she was sent to her parents’ home,” said a counsellor. “We motivated him to keep looking for opportunities and never lose hope.”

For the city-based counsellors, the story is repeated umpteen times in the past couple of months in different forms. The second wave of Covid-19 hit almost all families hard with loss of steady income, reduction in existing salaries and closure of businesses.

Dr Chirag Parmar, a psychiatrist with the Government Hospital for Mental Health (HMH), said that they came across a 35-year-old person’s case. “He was a manager with a city-based restaurant. He lost job earlier this year and even after five months could not find work matching his experience or monetary needs. Thus, he had developed symptoms including loss of appetite, disinterest in all spheres of life and firmly believed that there was no point in living,” he said.

“It is but natural to get anxious and even disheartened when nothing goes as planned – nobody could have anticipated what we have witnessed in the past one and a half years. But what we communicate to the patients is, they are not alone. Their nears and dears would stand by them and it’s an overall difficult time,” said Dr Deepti Bhatt, a senior psychiatrist with HMH. “The key to mental health in these trying times is to remain mentally agile, keeping a positive outlook, finding opportunities in adversities and keep communication channel open.”

Experts said that the tell-tale signs of depression include loss of sleep, loss of appetite, pessimistic outlook towards the world and fear of the future. While in majority of the cases counselling does the trick, some patients need medication, they added.

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