The fear of Coronavirus may be hurting us more than the disease itself, a Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Tomi Imarah, has said.
Imarah, who runs an online Mental Health Service, Tomi Haven, made the assertion on Saturday in Lagos on the global effects of the pandemic.
She told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that there was need to be wary of the possibility of a secondary emergence of a mental health crisis.
According to her, the pandemic is a potential threat to the emotional wellbeing and mental health of millions of people around the world.
“Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, most people may have observed that they are increasingly worried, agitated, restless, irritable, and tense.
“They are sleeping poorly and are having difficulties concentrating on important tasks; also, they may have been experiencing overwhelming fear at intervals.
“These are all signs of anxiety and most of us have been experiencing them at varying degrees.
“We have to brace ourselves against the grave impact that this issue may have on each and every one of us, most especially our vulnerable populations.
“Vulnerable groups include young children struggling to understand what is going on; the elderly dealing with social isolation prior to all this pandemic; and the people dealing with underlying mental and physical illnesses, ” she said.
The consultant psychiatrist, however, specified the possible components of the pandemic that might be causing these psychological effects.
Imarah said that emotional stability could be jeopardised by the fast paced changes happening in all the countries.
“Others include high rate of contagion, the current absence of definitive treatment, constant bombardment of our minds by ever-evolving news cycles, financial uncertainties and insecurity.
“Also, the unprecedented upheaval in social interactions dynamics, and the potential disruption of daily routines.
“In addition, the loneliness and idleness that may emerge with social distancing and physical isolation may take a psychological toll.
“Let us not forget that people dealing with prior mental illnesses, such as Anxiety Disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, may experience a recurrence or exacerbation of symptoms,” she said.
Imarah urged individuals to take steps to secure and fortify their mental health at this time by being mindful of the inflow of anxiety-provoking information.
She also advised people to be intentional about maintaining connectedness with families and friends.
“One can try to restrict access to only a handful of reliable sources such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, and some credible news media outlets.
“The deleterious effect of mandatory physical distancing and isolation can be mitigated by staying in touch via phone calls, chats, and video sessions.
“We should also try and maintain a daily routine of activities that we usually find pleasurable and reassuring, in order to establish a healthy level of internal control and mental stability,” Imarah said. (NAN)