World Mental Health Day: Pandemic, stigma fuel new wave of depression

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By Minzah Mehraj –

Srinagar:  Mehak (name changed) shudders with fear when she recalls the day her grandfather died of COVID. For a 20-year-old girl, experiencing a death became more painful when friends and relations distanced themselves as if they had committed a crime.

For days, the family mourned the death alone with nobody even called to enquire about their situation. The social stigma was such that the family did not even venture out for days. People were grimacing whenever they used to encounter any family member.

 “My grandfather died soon after the first case of COVID pandemic was detected. People were reluctant to meet us. I lacked the mental and emotional support from my friends.  I felt like I am a prisoner in a dungeon of my own thoughts”, said Mehak.

This is not an isolated case. Lack of social interaction drove many COVID patients’ families into anxiety and depression

“Due to the lockdown, there is an increase in depression cases. Cases of serious disorders like panic attacks, general anxieties and depression have increased”, said Dr. Saleem Yousuf, a psychiatrist at SHMS hospital.

What added a new dimension to the whole saga was anxiety attacks among the drug addicts. “During the lockdown, drug addicts couldn’t get the substance because of which they faced unbearable pain,” he said.

More than 400 drug addicts took help from online consultations since they were unable to consult doctors or visit the drug deaddiction centers. “Even the people who never thought of taking help from psychiatrists sought consultation,” Dr. Salim said.

 The lockdown also brought a sense of anxiety among the children due to the closure of schools in the valley. “I am waiting for my school to reopen so that  I will be able to meet my friends. I am unable to concentrate on my online classes”, said a 5th-grade student.

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