Insomnia to fear psychosis: COVID resurgence fuels new wave of depression in Kashmir
Srinagar: Twenty-five-year-old Ayaan (name changed) often feels restless and shudders with fear. He is not able to concentrate on his studies since his mind remains occupied with the constant thoughts of his family members contracting infection.
For the last two weeks, he has locked himself up in a dark room and does not allow even family members to venture out.
Ayaan and two members of his family had last year contracted COVID-19. They had to be hospitalized and it was nothing less than a miracle that they survived.
“He is keenly following daily log of cases and deaths. Neither does he sleep, nor he allows any of us to venture out of our homes even to the kitchen garden nearby,” said Ayaan’s mother, who has sought medical help for her son.
Ayaan is now on medication for anxiety, which the doctor said has aggravated due to the current circumstances in the valley.
Ayaan is not an isolated case. From insomnia to sudden mood swings, the surge in COVID-19 cases in the second wave has induced severe behavioral changes among people.
To address these issues, the health department has launched a helpline and asked people to contact the doctors for any psychological help.
“Anxiety and fear psychosis is very common among people. We get many calls where people complain of insomnia, phobia, and other mental issues. Actually, people consume too much of social media where the numbers related to fresh cases and deaths are being shared. It directly affects one’s mental health and leads to psychological distress,” said Dr. Yasir Ahmad Rather, consultant physiatrist and Associate professor at the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS), GMC, Srinagar.
Dr. Yasir said grisly videos and pictures of COVID victims also contribute to emotional numbness among social media users. “Daily deaths have become a kind of scoreboard for the people. There is a sort of emotional numbness and these deaths don’t seem to be affecting some people at all,” he added.
Dr. Yasir suggested that people should avoid social media and instead follow SOPs to maintain good mental health. “It is better to think over the things which are under our control. It includes wearing masks, sanitizers, and social distancing,” he said.
Psychiatrists fear that the current situation could aggravate mental health issues in Kashmir. “Fear and anxiety are already. The current scenario can aggravate the problem of those suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders,” Dr. Abdul Wahid Khan, a psychiatrist at GMC Anantnag said.
He said the current situation equally proves challenging for the families who have lost their members to COVID-19. “It needs to be seen how they are coping with it. People are cooperating with the administration for lockdown,” he said.