Psychological effects of Covid-19

The fear and anxiety in the absence of a definitive treatment for coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic can be overwhelming. Pandemics are more than a medical phenomenon with a multi-level impact on individuals and societies such as stigmatisation and xenophobia. Panic and stress have also been linked to pandemics that is as concerns over the perceived threat grow, people may stockpile masks and other medical supplies. This tends to be followed by anxiety-related behaviours, disturbances in sleep and appetite, difficulties concentrating, increased use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and lowered perceived state of health. Individuals with mental health problems may be more vulnerable to the effects of mass panic and the threat of the pandemic. Continuation of mental health treatment is imperative and be aware of worsening symptoms. Some mental health practitioners offer online therapeutic sessions, which may be useful given the threat of the pandemic. Prolonged experience of anxiety can lead to a suppressed immune system and may lead to non-specific mental health problems such as mood problems, sleep problems, phobia-like behaviours and panic-like symptoms. It is, therefore, important to employ adaptive coping strategies in managing stress and anxiety.

Five tips on coping with the Covid-19 pandemic:

  1. Intentionally disconnect from the Covid-19 topic

  2. Employ social distancing techniques

  3. Take care of yourself (i.e. meditation, healthy and balanced meals, regular exercise, adequate sleep, avoid alcohol and drugs, and good hygiene)

  4. Make time to relax and engage in activities you enjoy. Be creative and find ways to replicate the activities in your personal space (i.e. create a home gym or meditation corner)

  5. Share your concerns and feelings with someone you trust via online platforms. This may include your therapist.

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