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High levels of stress, weight gain among people trying to cope with COVID situation

Posted March 16th, 2021, 10:41 AM IST

High levels of stress, weight gain among people trying to cope with COVID situation

Weight gain, increase in stress levels and a feeling of helplessness are noticed among people trying to cope with the pandemic situation during the Covid times, mental health specialists say, quoting a nationwide study.

A high incidence of stress has been noted in some 50 to 75 per cent of the people. More than 5,000 individuals were included in the study. They said they were fed up with the present restrictions on public life and wanted to return at the earliest to the pre-Covid 19, normal times.

Higher stress levels were noted in the working-age population bound within their homes. Many have complained of an inability to continue working from home.

Those who carried out field work in the past could not sit back quietly and operate from home. Their productivity levels have declined. They said they were stressed. It was difficult for them to meet the targets and their jobs were at stake.

Some 60 per cent of them said they were indulging in “stress eating” or more of eating to reduce mental stress. As a result, they gained more weight and there were also increases in blood pressure and diabetes among those above age 45.

Dr Minhaj Zafar Nasirabadi, convener of media and mental health at Indian Psychiatric Society explains, “Covid-19 conditions aggravated the situations of those who suffered from depression and anxiety. It became a trigger leading to multiple panic attacks.”

Among those who suffered from Covid-19, it was found that 20 per cent of the patients continued having depression even after 90 days of contracting the virus. “The post-Covid-19 effect on the brain led to severe fatigue and this has led to a long-term Covid-19 impact on the brain. Some cases are reported even after six to eight months of cure, with stressors of panic attacks and depression.”

Impact on the near and dear ones was also high. They were found to suffer from sleep problems, fatigue and anxiety. The psychological impact will roll out in different ways, predicted mental health specialists “as the on-going pandemic is making adaptability a challenge”.

Dr I. Bharat Kumar Reddy, senior consultant psychiatrist at Apollo Hospitals, says, “Many of them have gone into a condition of helplessness. This is also one of the reasons for not following safety protocols of masks and social distancing. People are fed up and they want to escape from the situation by believing that all is normal again. The urge is to get back to normalcy due to which they are unwilling to opt for medical aid even if they have symptoms of any other disease. Many are unwilling to opt for medical assistance of any kind due to this condition. The fallout on mental health will be noted for a long time.”

Mental health experts opine that the long-term impact will be seen from children to senior citizens and its complete adverse effect will be known only after a few years.