Anxiety, Guilt, Stigma: Mental Health in a COVID-19 Ward

“There is a lot of trauma and anxiety experienced by patients,” say psychologists in COVID-19 wards. 

Mind It
2 min read

(Video Producer: Puneet Bhatia, Illustrations: Arnica Kala )

“One patient asked me, ‘ Why are we being shunned from society and being put literally behind bars?’” recalls Dr Anindita Gangopadhya, a third-year resident in MD Psychiatry at JJ Hospital, Mumbai.

“I have a seen a patient who was very anxious, who was in tears literally begging, ‘Doctor please let me go home, I will not cough again, I will not sneeze again, I will take medication properly, just let me go away from this place!’  
Dr Anindita Gangopadhya, a third-year resident in MD Psychiatry at JJ Hospital, Mumbai.

With over 781975 active cases as of 31 August, and 64469 deaths, getting infected with the virus is an anxiety-ridden time.

Dr Anindita tells me that the increasing number of cases are creating a terror among people - despite the fatigue that seems to have crept in - people are worried about their health.

“There is a lot of anxiety,people start getting fearful reactions of how did they get it, what will happen to their life now? Are they going to live or are they going to die?”
Dr Anindita Gangopadhya, a third-year resident in MD Psychiatry at JJ Hospital, Mumbai.

One of the most worrying aspects is the stigma and guilt associated with the disease, coupled with the huge amount of misinformation going around. “It is our job as pschologists in the COVID-19 ward todo regular counselling, explain the virus and their treatment to them and conduct psycho-education,” says Dr Anindita.

Dr Sumedha Tiwari, Sr. Registrar at the department of Psychiatry at Rajawadi Hospital, Mumbai says that on top of their regular corona duties, “An additional thing that I do as a physiatrist is that I ask patients about their sleep patterns if they are feeling anxious, and I address their doubts if they have any. And I also enquire about the previous psychiatric history or any history with alcohol or any substances. Because there is a tendency to discontinue psychiatric medicines and some of them rightly so, because they cause depression in your respiratory system. But others should be continued, otherwise, there will be a relapse in symptoms.

“There is some trauma experienced by patients because sometimes they see critical patients dying in front of them in a ward set-up.So that causes them to have some sleep and appetite disturbances,” adds psychologist Nikita Sulay.

So the presence of mental health practitioners in COVID-19 wards is a huge boon to help calm patients down and give them hope.

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