Srinagar, Feb 21: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic had a significant impact on the mental well-being of the general population and the impact is reported to be more in people in isolation/quarantine facilities and frontline healthcare workers managing patients in such facilities.
The cross-sectional study conducted at a COVID-19 tertiary care treatment facility, Chest Diseases Hospital, Srinagar which was one of the main hospitals receiving COVID-19 patients and the study that has been published in journal of Integrative Medicine and Public Health, a publication of Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Srinagar, has revealed that that prevalence of depression and anxiety was found more in patients in quarantine and isolation.
An official, who was part of the study said that COVID-19 has led to an increasing reliance on home and hospital carers.
“Our study underlines an important finding that the psychological impact is significant not only on the patients who contract the infection but also on their careers,” he said.
Quarantine and isolation with associated stigma have a negative impact on the mental health of the patients and their families. Moreover, working in such quarantine centres has a negative psychological impact on healthcare workers as well, he said adding that healthcare workers are at risk of infection and contracting the disease and worry about passing the virus to their families as there is also emotional distress due to dealing with morbid population under stressful circumstances at times with limited recourses and manpower.
“Our patient sample mainly comprised men (70%) and 90.5% had a positive COVID-19 test. We found a very high prevalence of depression (60.2 %) and anxiety (52%) symptoms in the study sample. This could be because Kashmir valley has higher pre-pandemic rate of depressive (41%) and anxiety symptoms (26%) in the local population attributed to the ongoing conflict over the last many decades. The rates of depressive and anxiety symptoms in our study sample due to COVID-19 was higher compared to similar studies around the world. The inability to cope with COVID-19 was directly associated with higher anxiety levels. Worries about job loss and finances were associated with higher depression rates. There were no other significant associations between other variables in the sociodemographic profile and symptoms.” He said.
“Our carer sample mainly comprised men (80.9%). In resource-constrained settings, it is often the relatives who attend to the patient for basic nursing care in place of healthcare workers thus being at increased risk of infection and psychological impact. The carers or the family attendants of the patients admitted for treatment or quarantine similarly showed higher rates of anxiety (49.2%) and depression (46.2%). It is worth noting that although the rates of depression and anxiety are lower in this group, they seem to have higher rates of anxiety than depression which could be due to fear of catching the infection, worries about loved ones who are unwell due to COVID-19, stigma and financial concerns,” he added.
“The prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms in healthcare workers was 16.7% and 33.3%, respectively. This is significantly lower than in the patient or carer group. This could be because healthcare workers‗ expert knowledge and position of control in healthcare matters give them some protection. The psychological impact of COVID-19 on frontline health workers has been well-reported,” he added.
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