Andhra Pradesh

Psychiatrists foresee spurt in anxiety, panic disorders

Pursue hobbies or cultivate new ones to beat the stress, they say

The highly contagious coronavirus is leaving a trail of infections reducing life to a struggle to cope with uncertainty and the need for rapid readjustment for many. Psychiatrists are sceptical if life will get back on track post-COVID-19, especially for people who already have symptoms of anxiety, panic and major depressive disorders besides those suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

“The outbreak will have huge psychological ramifications in the days to come. This uncertainty will spell serious trouble for people reeling under anxiety and panic disorders,” says psychiatrist Vishal Indla.

The Director of Indlas Vijayawada Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (VIMHANS) points out that uncertainty fuels anxiety and panic, thus making worse the condition of the patient. He talks about incessant calls he receives from his patients, eager to discuss with him their ‘looming fears.’

“Some of them are in a state of hyper-vigilance with severe anxiety, fear and panic. This may heighten negative thoughts and widen the scope of their relapse, resulting in more difficulties for them and people around,” he says.

Change of scenario

The rapid spread, the terrible fear and the subsequent lockdown may see new cases of psychological problems surfacing, says Dr. Vishal. “The routine of the people leading a healthy lifestyle is broken as they are confined to the four walls of their houses. Unless they fill this gap with activities that give them pleasure as well as enrich them in some way, there is bound to be a negative impact,” he warns.

V. Radhika Reddy, psychiatrist from Pooja Psychiatric Centre at Suryaraopet, echoes similar concerns. “After living in a denial mode for some time, we all now realise that COVID-19 is real and it could affect anybody. Lockdown for a prolonged period could lead to serious mental health issues,” she says.

“This is what pandemics do. People become excessively apprehensive about their health and keep looking for symptoms in their body and become over-sensitive to whatever happens around them. This is not a good thing at all,” warns Dr. Vishal.

He says the lockdown period is the best time for family bonding and to connect with old friends or learn a new skill like music, dance, gardening or even cooking.

“Don’t believe everything that appears on social media and stick to one bulletin a day. Handle life with great responsibility and gear up for a fresh start post-COVID-19,” he advises.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 10:13:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/psychiatrists-foresee-spurt-in-anxiety-panic-disorders/article31199104.ece

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