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Sitting Idle During Lockdown May Impact Mental Health: Dr M Maqbool

SRINAGAR: At a time when people are confined within the four walls of their houses due to the prevailing Covid-19 lockdown, Psychiatric experts have severe apprehensions of people developing mental health issues.

Psychiatrists believe that people staying at home for days together with Covid trauma and without keeping themselves busy can have   repercussions on their mental health.

Dr Mohammad Maqbool Dar, Head of the Department (HoD), Psychiatry, Government Medical College Srinagar while delving into the topic says that the there has been subsequent increase in the number of cases related to psychiatric diseases among people ever since the successive lockdowns had to be imposed in the wake of corona virus outbreak.

Talking about the most common mental health issues that people have developed during these lockdowns, Dr Maqbool says, “Most of the psychiatric patients have developed five types of illnesses during this period like depression, anxiety, dissociative and  panic  disorders besides obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), while post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has also been  witnessed in some patients”.

Giving details about the symptoms of these diseases, he said, “If we talk of depression, the patients suffering from this mental health issue are usually in bad mood, they sleep less, have poor concentration and sometimes even develop suicidal thoughts also”.

In case of panic disorder, a patient feels intense anxiety which remains there for a few minutes, he experiences chest pain, headache, choking sensation in throat and also sometimes feels he is about to experience heart attack and these patients also visit cardiologists for treatment, Dr Maqbool said.

The patients suffering from dissociative disorder feel like dizziness which remains there for some minutes and even sometimes it lasts till half an hour.

“As regards Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the patients suffering from it frequently wash their hands, indulge in repetitive behaviour, face health anxiety and due to covid, their behaviour has also got reinforced”, he added.

Giving reference to a study conducted by the Institute of Mental Health in collaboration with some of the renowned doctors from Government Medical College and CD Hospital, the HoD Psychiatry said that they have conducted a study on 119 patients to find out about the percentage of people suffering from different disorders.

“During the study we found that as per scales, 44 percent of the people among these were found suffering from anxiety disorder, 61 percent from depression, 25 percent from PTSD and OCD was found in almost among 98 percent of the patients” he added.

Dr Maqbool said due to prevailing Covid-19 pandemic people are developing mental health problems, people sitting home need to take care of their mental health and especially the ones sitting in home isolation.

“People sitting in home isolation need to keep themselves engaged, they can talk to people over phone, keep themselves busy in doing exercises, meditation, yoga and playing indoor games and this way they can prevent stress on their mental health,” he suggested.

Earlier, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) was functioning from two places simultaneously with its OPD at IMH, Kathi Darwaza Srinagar and General Psychiatry Hospital Unit at SMHS hospital, but due to Covid-19 outbreak, the General Psychiatry Hospital Unit at SMHS Hospital has been converted into Covid facility and people are now visiting IMH Kathi Darwaza for counselling and treatment. The de-addiction centre that was functioning from SMHS Hospital has also been shifted to the IMH.

After the imposition of lockdown, Dr Maqbool informed that they have made OPD, counselling and other services available online also.

On the directions of Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, a help line has also been made available for the general public for online counselling and psychiatric consultation. “Three of our clinical psychologists receive calls from the public thrice a week at Covid Control Room in Divisional Commissioner’s office and Psychiatrists have also given numbers for wide publicity and are receiving calls from the people for online consultation and counselling regarding covid and mental health issues” HoD Psychiatry said.

He said people can take the precautions to maintain their mental health or they can avail counselling on helpline numbers already publicised through various media.

Health & Medical Education Department through its National Health Mission has started Tele-counselling facility for people who are dealing with mental trauma, stress and depression after having lost their loved ones during covid-19 pandemic. In respect of Srinagar district, the affected individuals have been advised to contact Dr Maqbool HoD Psychiatry on cell no 7889818196, Dr Junaid Nabi Assistant Professor on 9797199799, Dr Rayees Assistant Professor on 6005027377 and Dr Hadika  Senior Resident on 9622932343.

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