Experts say COVID-19 may affect mental health


March 20 (UPI) – Experts say that a new outbreak of coronavirus continues to spread throughout the United States, as well as concern among Americans, because people are not sure what is happening and what to do.

With confirmed cases COVID-19 currently exceeds 16,600 according Jones Hopkins The university, many communities across the country have issued guidelines for "social distance", and in some states, including California, Florida, and New York, measures have been taken to force the closure of secondary businesses or asylum orders to stop the spread.

With each new restriction and announcement, public concern is growing. It was noted earlier this month a guide issued by the World Health Organization, which states that the outbreak of COVID-19 – before calling it a pandemic – "causes stress in the population."

“In general, many people are disappointed that people do not know what will happen,” said Prairie Conlon, an UPI consultant who offers telephone and Internet counseling services. “I believe that fear of the unknown intensifies anxiety. I constantly hear one question: “When do you think this will end?” "Without a definite answer, it can really shake people."

Mental health suffers from outbreaks

Of course, COVID-19 is not the first global crisis to raise the level of stress and anxiety, and there are studies showing the impact of these events on the public.

A review of 24 studies of the psychosocial consequences of the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in 2014–2016 showed that a large number of survivors, as well as those who were not directly affected or infected, continued to experience significant “psychological disorders”. These suffering may include depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, memory, sadness, futility, substance abuse, suicidal tendencies and self-stigmatization, the researchers write.

In addition, the researchers said that even after the outbreak was over, family and community responses to survivors ranged from “acceptance to rejection, isolation, stigma and discrimination — all of which can have an obvious impact on mental health.”

“So for something like this outbreak, we could have seen the effects on mental health for several months or even years after eliminating it,” said Dr. Dana Rose Garfin, an assistant professor of psychology at the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing in California University of Irvine. Garfin's research work focuses on injuries, stresses, disasters, and health psychology.

“We see again and again that after such events, people with mental health problems tend to live worse,” she added.

According to Garfin, media coverage of crises such as COVID-19 often does not help. Daily press briefings by politicians, government agencies, and other organizations can do more to increase anxiety than to reduce it. research found.

An important study published in 2016 in the journal Integrated PsychiatryFor example, it was found that survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 were more prone to “negative reactions” to media coverage of the September 11 terrorist attacks six years later. Problems included worsening anxiety and depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

What to do

WHO recommends that people “protect themselves and support others” as a way to mitigate the mental health consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

For Conlon, what few people can do to control the outbreak means focusing on “things you can control.”

“Make a list of just a few things you need to do every day, such as getting out of the toilet or looking for an exercise program on YouTube that you can do in your living room,” she said. "The very act of achieving something can help bring your world back to balance."

Conlon and Garfin also support the WHO Council, which called on the public to “avoid watching, reading or listening to the news you are worried or worried about” and “seek information, mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect them.” yourself and your loved ones. "The agency also suggests scheduling a day to check for news, in addition to choosing reliable sources," to help you distinguish facts from rumors. "

“Turn off the news if you find that they work,” Conlon added.

However, Garfin emphasized that it was still important to keep abreast of the current US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and WHO recommendations as the outbreak unfolded. Just do it in moderation.

In addition, both Garfin, who is not a clinician, and Conlon, said there are many “self-care measures” that people can take even under “social distance” as recommended by the CDC and others to stop the spread. COVID-19. Simple gestures, such as talking to friends and family over the phone or over the Internet and offering support words, as well as relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, can help.

“Fear spreads even faster than the virus itself,” Conlon said. “The feeling of helplessness when we watch how this event unfolds can have detrimental consequences for those who are already struggling with a mental illness. In addition, I think we will see how other cases of mental illness will develop. ”

However, on the positive side, Garfin offered some confidence, calling the outbreak “temporary.”

She added: “It will pass.”

Pandemic Scenes: The World Deals With COVID-19

On January 21, pedestrians put on protective respiratory masks in the center of Beijing. Photo by Stephen Shaver / UPI | Photo License

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