Its been one year after the Wuhan-linked coronavirus has taken the whole world into a storm, causing large-scale lockdowns and imposed restrictions. One whole year was spent following the isolation, quarantine, social distancing, and safety precautions issued by local and international health agencies. Although they are to protect people from this deadly virus, we cannot ignore the stress, insomnia, and other mental health problems that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to the public.
Some countries have imposed strict lockdowns, for example, the UK while some others have only focused on closing borders and controlling overseas travelers like Taiwan. But collectively all countries are trying to impose some type of limitations to control the widespread of coronavirus. But these restrictions despite their benefits against the pandemic are causing multiple mental health issues in the general public, which have initiated another debate suggesting a mental health pandemic is next to come.
Millions of people have reported depression, sleeping difficulties, and anxiety ever since this pandemic has started. Many researchers are working on identifying the mental health effects of lockdowns, isolations, restrictions of movement, and quarantine during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the duration and nature of these limitations are different in different parts of the world, all of them are resulting in similar stress-related problems in people, who are not otherwise stressed or sick.
But this is not the first time that a pandemic is affecting people, there were pandemics before the COVID-19 pandemic but what was their effect on the mental health of people? There isn’t much available on the big-scale pandemics from the past, but researchers are determined to find out how this current pandemic is affecting the life and mental peace of everyone.
A latest review has analyzed a few studies based on people following a quarantine for multiple reasons i.e. swine flu, Ebola, and even SARS, all of which have caused a pandemic in the past. This review suggested that quarantine, due to any reason can leave long-term psychological effects on any person.
This fear and worry are not just related to contracting the virus it is also due to the changes this pandemic is making to everyone’s life. the health outcomes, social dynamics, and economic after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are not very encouraging, and some people are more likely to get affected by these changes. Adding up to this, the uncertainty of what will happen next is making people anxious beyond their limit and subjecting them to extreme dangers.
The data on self-isolation as well as public lockdown collected during early pandemic days can present a clear picture of how the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening mental health. A recent study from Italy reveals that over one-third of the population has experienced extreme psychological effects during the early days of the first wave of coronavirus in the world. During this time most parts of the world imposed strict lockdown and restricted public movement. With no information on this virus, isolation and lockdown during early pandemic days made millions of people anxious.
All these restrictions increase the fear regarding public safety. Distancing from loved ones, inability to roam around freely, confining in home, each one of these increases the risk of mental health issues. After one year of battling with this pandemic, still, the psychological side of a pandemic is not completely clear. However, working on how a public health crisis helps to determine the control plan and enforcing strategies for the next pandemics in a better way.