It’s not unusual to be stressed, worried or scared about the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, as the pandemic continues to claim lives, mental health professionals from around the world have been observing a spike in stress, anxiety and depression. A study published in the Community Mental Health Journal in June 2020 explored the different degrees of psychological distress among different sections of the Indian population to find that stress and anxiety about the pandemic and its outcomes was all pervasive.
The study also pointed out that stress, anxiety and depression was observed to increase more in the case of students and healthcare professionals. The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) came up with a detailed mental health guideline to help mental health professionals manage the rise in mental health disorders due to the pandemic.
However, reaching out to a professional for help when you need it is something you have to do yourself. You might think that some levels of stress and anxiety are manageable without the help of a professional, but if you or a loved one are showing any of the following signs, then get in touch with a mental healthcare professional immediately.
1. Sleep problems: The inability to sleep enough or well every night is one of the key indications that your coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety aren’t working. If you’re getting regular nightmares, broken or disturbed sleep, or experiencing the inability to fall asleep fast, then it’s likely that your stress levels are off the charts.
2. No silver lining: Focusing on just the bad news out there and being unable to process any of the positive news about the world shows that you’re stuck in apocalypse mode. While it’s true that the bad news outweighs the good during a pandemic of this scale, being incapable of seeing beyond it may be a sign of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
3. Crippling anxiety: Feeling helpless in the face of a threat might be normal, but being completely overwhelmed by such feelings to the extent of being unable to function with even a semblance of normalcy is not. Being constantly swamped with feelings of anxiety, dread and panic can make it next to impossible for you to take a break, recuperate and refresh yourself.
4. Stuck in survival mode: Anxiety about financial, health and other concerns during the pandemic can trigger survival instincts, and lead to habits like hoarding, hibernating or obsessing over the smallest of lapses in safety measures. This may be normal, even necessary at some point, but being constantly stuck in survival mode can lead to fatigue and exhaustion, apart from causing mental health disorders that require clinical support.
5. Loss of interest: Many people experienced a surge of interest in recreational activities like cooking, reading, watching movies, etc at the beginning of the pandemic. These brought hope, joy and were great coping mechanisms for most. If these activities no longer bring any pleasure and you’re experiencing a complete loss of interest, then it’s time to talk to someone about your mental health.
6. Self harm: Negative thoughts about yourself and the world are likely to arise during the pandemic. But if these negative thoughts are so exacerbated that you engage in self-harming behaviours, like cutting, burning or strangulation, or think persistently about committing suicide, then reach out for help immediately.
For more information, read our article on How to protect your mental health during COVID-19 pandemic.
Health articles on News18 are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.