Published on July 3, 2021
Part of Mindemic series
AHMEDABAD: In mid-May, a man in his forties approached a psychiatrist after a suggestion from his physician. His primary complaint was sleeplessness. Probing further, the psychiatrist got to know that the man had tested positive for Covid-19 and had spent seven days in hospital. He did not have severe symptoms, but looking at deaths all around him, he was apprehensive about his own life.
“The patient was given medication and was asked to talk to those who had recovered from Covid. The cases of severe distress and anxiety were seen after April-May peak of daily Covid cases,” said the psychiatrist.
After the pandemic, experts in the city are witnessing ‘mindemic’ or spike in mental health issues affecting a large population. Experts cite prolonged isolation, trauma of losing someone or witnessing them scurrying for beds during pandemic, excessive exposure to screen, sudden change in economic stature and constant proximity to the family members as some of the reasons for the phenomenon.
Dr Kevin Patel, a psychiatrist, said that they also saw spike in patients reporting obsessive compulsive disorder primarily associated with cleanliness. “In one of the cases, a young woman was not infected herself, but had witnessed multiple deaths around her. She was under constant duress due to fear of being infected by Covid or passing on infection to her kin,” he said. “Thus, it got manifested by excessive cleaning of house and not allowing any person to go out from home or come inside, lest they bring virus in.”
Experts also reported hoarding behaviour in several citizens who bought prescription medicines in bulk in anticipation of getting infected.
“Almost all members of society have been affected by the pandemic at varying degrees. We often compare it with the impact of World Wars. While moderate to extreme cases need due examination by experts, citizens can take simple steps such as talking about anxiety, sticking to routine and light exercises,” said Dr Pradip Vaghasiya, a psychiatrist.