The Emotional impact of COVID-19: it’s Pandemic!

Yeah, such a good way to start on a Monday :-p

Despite what we might think, it concerns not only health care or the first-responders, the emergency is touching all. If we want to create this social web to really help each-others, we do not have much choice than  sharing and caring.

I am like you, I am trying to distract myself, keep on working, and keep connected with other people. But I admit I am drinking more than usual and making an effort to do some workout.

Find this contemporary medical research and some tips from.. well, I found it on google and I liked it.

Have a good week and, as always, we are all in here together.

Bless you.

Diana x

An inspiring editorial by  entitled “The emotional impact of COVID-19: From medical staff to common people” recently published in the ‘Brain, Behavior, and Immunity’ motivated us to pen down a concise yet, informative viewpoint entitled “COVID-2019-suicides: A global psychological pandemic”.

24,81,026 is the fearsome and huge number of COVID-19 cases with 1,70,423 deaths being reported from around the world () is complicating the situation and difficult to control. The realization of the non-availability of vaccine and/or effective antiviral drug against SARS-CoV-2 virus, and understanding that social distancing and quarantine/self-isolation is the only available remedy to us, forced the governments of most of the countries to declare the nationwide lock down.

So far the only advice or the option against the disastrous COVID-19 is screening of suspected person for SARS-CoV-2, if comes positive, then quarantine/self-isolation in addition to supportive treatment. However, few cases have been reported around the world where people out of fear of getting COVID-19 infection, social stigma, isolation, depression, anxiety, emotional imbalance, economic shutdown, lack and/or improper knowledge, financial and future insecurities took their lives. With recent suicide reports we can anticipate the rippling effect of this virus on worldwide suicide events. However, the basic psychology and inability of the person and the mass society to deal with the situation are the major factors behind these COVID-19 suicides pandemic.

1. Possible factors and predictors

Social Isolation/distancing induce a lot of anxiety in many citizens of different country. However, the most vulnerable are those with existing mental health issues like depression and older adults living in loneliness and isolation. Such people are self-judgemental, have extreme suicidal thoughts. Imposed isolation and quarantine disrupts normal social lives and created psychological fear and feeling like trapped, for an indefinite period of time. The first suicidal case was reported from south India on 12th Feb 2020, where Balakrishna, a 50-year-old man wrongly co-related his normal viral infection to COVID-19 (). Although out of fear and love for his family, he quarantined himself, but later committed suicide, as he was psychologically disturbed after reading COVID-19 related deaths in the newspaper. In Delhi, India, one COVID-19 suspected man admitted in the isolation ward of the Safdarjung Hospital allegedly committed suicide by jumping off the seventh floor of the hospital building (). Not only India, psychosocial distress linked to COVID-19 crises has swept the globe. COVID-19 worries apparently prompted a murder-suicide () in Chicago where Patrick Jesernik shot Cheryl Schriefer before shooting himself. Patrick was in an illusion that two of them had SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Worldwide lockdown creating economic recession: The looming economic crisis may create panic, mass unemployment, poverty and homelessness will possibly surge the suicide risk or drive an increase in the attempt to suicide rates in such patients. US already claimed a vast increase in unemployment (4.6 million) during coronavirus emergency and speculated that lockdown will cause more deaths than COVID-19 itself amid the recession (). This uncertainty of time for isolation, not only demoralize but also make people feel worthless, hopeless about present and future as exemplified by the suicide of German Hesse state Finance Minister Thomas Schaefer ().

Stress, anxiety and pressure in medical healthcare professionals are at immense and at the peak. 50% of the medical staff in the British hospitals are sick, and at home, leaving high pressure on the remaining staff to deal with the situation. In King’s College Hospital, London, a young nurse took her own life while treating COVID-19 patients (). Even the forefront warriors, i.e. medical professionals are constantly in close contact with COVID-19 positive and/or quarantined patients while treating them are under psychological trauma. The predictors are constant fear of getting infection, unbearable stress, helplessness and distress watching infected patients die alone.

Social boycott and discrimination also added few cases to the list of COVID-19 suicides. Mamun MA et al., 2020 reported the first COVID-19 suicide case in Bangladesh, where Zahidul Islam, a 36-year-old man committed suicide due to social avoidance by the neighbours and his moral conscience to ensure not to pass on the virus to his community (). Other important cases from around the world have been described in Table 1 .

Representative cases showing psycological conditions and underlying predictors leading to COVID-19 suicides.

Factors and predictors for COVID-19 suicides
Social Isolation/distancing


SN Case History Predictors Reference
1. Santosh Kaur, a 65- year-old woman, committed suicide over the fear of the COVID-19. (India) Person was depressed, had anxiety over COVID-19 and was alone. Her fear was just an illusion and there was no one to counsel or to console her. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/anxiety-over-covid-19-leads-to-phagwara womans-suicide-66466 (Accessed on 7 April 2020)
2. Chinese student living in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia had committed suicide by jumping from the 3rd floor of a hospital. (Saudi Arabia) Quarantined on suspicion of being infected with the coronavirus.
3. 19-year-old Emily Owen, youngest suicide victim(Britain) Fear of isolation was created just by the announcement of the country lockdown https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/covid-19-is-likely-to-lead-to-an-increase-in-suicides/ (Accessed on 8 April 2020)
Worldwide lockdown creating economic recession
4. Finance Minister Thomas Schaefer, 54-year-old economist. (Germany) Could not able to bear and cope with the stress about the economic fallout of COVID-19. Turned him hopeless that he could not able to manage citizen’s expectations for financial aid. https://www.todayonline.com/world/covid-19-german-minister-commits-suicide-after-virus-crisis-worries (Accessed on 8 April 2020)
Stress, anxiety and pressure in medical healthcare professionals
5. 49-year-old nurse (S.L.) of Jesolo hospital committed suicide by jumping into Piave river (Italy) Lived alone and distressed https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/03/31/trez-m31.html (Accessed on 9 April 2020)
6. Daniela Trezzi, a 34-year-old nurse of the San Gerardo hospital (Italy) Deeply traumatized, compassion fatigue, emotional burnout, hopelessness, and fear of contracting and spreading the disease to others. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/03/31/trez-m31.html (Accessed on 9 April 2020)
Social boycott and discrimination
7. Mustaffa, a 35-year-old male and Mohammad Dilshad, a 37-year-old male committed suicide. (India) Both were facing social boycott and religious discrimination from their neighbours in the suspicion of positive COVID-19 report. Resulted in isolation, stigma and finally depression. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/stigma-over-covid-testing-blamed-for-mans-suicide/articleshow/74939681.cms (Accessed on 8 April 2020) https://www.livemint.com/news/india/facing-social-boycott-covid-19-negative-man-commits-suicide-in-himachal-s-una-11586090515081.html (Accessed on 9 April 2020)

Do’s and dont’s

 

  • Pause. Breathe. Reflect.

Take some slow breaths: in through your nose, then slowly breathe out.

Slow breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress, because it signals to your brain to relax your body.

Notice how you are feeling and what you are thinking, without judgment. Instead of responding or reacting to those thoughts or feelings, note them, and then let them go.

  • Connect with others

Talking to people you trust can help. Keep in regular contact with people close to you. Tell them how you are feeling and share any concerns.

  • Do:
    • Get up and go to bed at similar times every day.
    • Keep up with personal hygiene.
    • Eat healthy meals at regular times.
    • Exercise regularly. Just doing 3-4 minutes of light intensity physical movement, such as walking or stretching, will help.
    • Allocate time for working and time for resting.
    • Make time for doing things you enjoy.
    • Take regular breaks from on-screen activities.

    Don’t:

Don’t use alcohol and drugs as a way of dealing with fear, anxiety, boredom and social isolation.

  • Be kind to yourself and others

Don’t expect too much of yourself on difficult days. Accept that some days you may be more productive than others.

Try to reduce how much you watch, read or listen to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed. Seek the latest information from trusted sources at specific times of the day.

Helping others can be good for you too. If you are able to, offer support to people in your community who may need it.

  • Reach out for help if you need it

Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you think you need it. A good place to start is your local health worker. Help-lines can also be a source of support.

 

Please, find the Helplines Resources on the following links and be kind to your mind:

 

US Helplines Resources

UK EMERGENCY HELPLINE

Published by Diana White Thunder-Moon

Hi Crew, this is my tribute to Trauma as an Empath Warrior. In the aftermath of Paris attacks, in 2015, I was hotel assistant in elite resorts when my life fell apart. Since then it's been a night sea journey that I am glad to share around the fire with beers on me. Cheers xx

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