The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health

by / Tuesday, 12 May 2020 / Published in COVID-19, General
COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health

During the last few months, there has been extensive research on the effect of chronic stress during the COVID-19 pandemic period on:

1. the physical and mental health of doctors and nurses, and

2. the underlying mental and physical illnesses in patients

In particular, the aim of the studies was to understand the psychosocial effects during the pandemic period, such as chronic stress, sleep disorders, phobic symptoms of possible exposure, depressive symptoms and feelings of guilt in health care staff when choosing and managing COVID-19 cases in the emergency outpatient clinics of the hospitals, in the wards and in the intensive care units.

Apart from the fact that chronic stress increases the risk of developing health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a weakened immune system, it also affects a person’s mental health. Many studies show a correlation between stress and the development of mood disorders such as anxiety disorders and depression. In addition, stress during the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be able to affect pre-existing illnesses by worsening the clinical profile or the occurrence of psychosomatic symptoms.

The need for alternative treatment strategies is now imperative and this is where Tele-health kicks in. The advantages of Tele-health are numerous:
– Provides direct and quick access to Licensed mental health provider.
– Protects patients from possible exposure.
– Gives access to providers in different locations and cities (especially for areas where there a very few psychiatrists and psychologists).
– Provides early engagement in treatment. This can lead to symptoms being treated early and avoid long term socioeconomic effects of long term mental illness.

In addition, psychotherapeutic interventions with the help of modern technologies may help reduce the stress caused by social distancing, prolonged confinement, and possible treatment delays due to COVID-19 pandemic.

In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be a serious health challenge. Not only does it make it necessary for healthcare professionals to take difficult decisions, but it also tests the resilience, quality and safety of health systems internationally. In addition, social stress as a result of this pandemic appears to seriously affect the mental health of healthy individuals whilst at the same time being a cumulative risk factor in patients suffering from underlying mental and physical illnesses.

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