The public landscape of India has changed dramatically with the lockdown that the current generation can remember. The lockdown ensured that hundreds of millions of people were effectively confined to home armed with a self-attested affidavit, to stock up on essentials.
Even though this may have been effective in helping to suppress the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in India, it’s not, perhaps, been conducive to the emotional and mental health of some groups.
What Areas Did the Lockdown Impact?
The lockdown applied to three areas: motion from the house, social distancing when outside the home, and restricted accessibility of most services while sparing services. There was a sudden and radical change in the routine, together with millions stranded without work in rental apartments and houses and far from home.
Academic work ground to a stop, with staff like security guards, cleaners and gardeners suddenly being thrown out of the work. Earlier studies have shown that the emotional impact could be, together with even distress or stress, enhanced by this loss of employment on the working community, revealed by symptoms of post-traumatic stress and aggressiveness.
On the other hand, the effects of the lockdown is likely to be heaviest on those that are poor, already emotionally burdened, or out of the mainstream at baseline.
One such type is that the minorities, which are already excluded from mainstream communities. Such people may quite well be unable to see others in their area, which put their sexual lives on hold and encouraged porn. These disruptions in sexual lives, along with the continuing stress because of the lockdown, could also persuade individuals to (mis)use porn for coping, which may further lead to depressive symptoms.
Another needy group is sick and old individuals, often without immediate family caregivers in the vicinity’s community. They’re known to have a higher risk of having the infection. Those that are exposed on a daily basis to possible sources of disease are more likely to be stressed taking the virus home although becoming infected.
Depression and Anxiety in the Lockdown
As the country went into lock-down, people have been divided into two as in the times of partition. Everybody has a challenge, everybody is frustrated. One part of the population has the challenge to stay at home and the other to reach home. One has the challenge to cook food by oneself and the other has the struggle to get some food.
The fact that India has virtually locked down about 1.3 billion inside their houses was bound to have unprecedented consequences. We are talking about anxiety, depression, anger, fear, mass divorces, and frustration which is slowly eating up our minds.
First there is the fear and frustration of losing your job or your business. Then there is the frustration of not being able to go out and meet people. Also, there is this uncertainty about the whole situation at this time. Even for the kids, this time is quite frustrating.
First, there were the restrictions by parents and now by society and by law. Senior citizens are also facing the sense of void and working professionals are anxious about their career. All these frustrations build up and come out as anger. This anger, many a times, turns people violent also. Such behaviour is often observed internationally after events of curfew and lock-down.
How can you stop this frustration to turn into anger? How can you stay mentally healthy during the times of lock-down. How can you keep yourself from getting depressed at this uncertain time?
Before we get to the solution, we need to understand the problem.
We’ll have to admit that even if you are safe at your homes, you are still not safe of all dangers.
Let me explain why this is so in five points.
1: Psychological impact of the lock-down.
After mass sterilization, demonetization, Lock-down is the new unprecedented though much needed decision by the government. We all thought how difficult this would be but it is.
Also, nobody can afford Netflix and how long will you watch the same movies on television?!
Forget 21 days, many people got unstable right after one day of ‘Janata curfew’. So you can imagine what a lock-down for 21 days can do to us. Two suicides have already been reported in India during lock-down. There is already an estimated increase of 20 to 30% in cases of anxiety, depression and stress due to lock-down
During the SARS outbreak also, about 29% people who were quarantined showed symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and about 31% people had signs of depression. Then there are already surveys which show that about 47% of Indians suffer loneliness.
2: Indirect Psychological impacts of lock-down.
Most of the liquor shops in India are closed in this lock-down and this is not a matter to joke about. See, dry states like Gujarat would fulfil their alcohol demand with cow urine.
Though, there have already been 7 suicides reported in Kerala within 100 hours of the lock-down due to unavailability of alcohol. Also, there have been 10 such cases in Telangana and 7 in Karnataka. Besides this, about 300 people have recently been admitted to the Institute of Mental Health in Hyderabad.
We are not even counting the people we already know are psychologically unstable so you can imagine the situation.
3: Lock-down and relationships.
This lock-down will not only affect your mental life but also your love life. See, when two people will have to stay together 24/7 without any break from each other, it might result in conflicts. Divorce rates are already increasing in Malaysia and China. According to a Chinese divorce lawyer, his case-hold has seen an increase of about 25% during the lock-down.
So we have to understand that this is a depressing time for all of us but the only people who can help us with this is our family, our life-partners.
4: Attacks on Doctors, north eastern citizens, and police.
This lock-down had such an impact on some people that they began attacking the doctors. So those clapping and banging of plates were to thank doctors or to warn them?! These cases of attacks on doctors that have come out in the past few days prove that even coronavirus can be cured, this virus of foolishness cannot.
Stones were pelted on doctors in Indore. Many doctors are being asked to evict their houses. On one side we displayed our sick mentality by attacking doctors and on the other proclaimed our racist behaviour by attacking north-eastern citizens.
People in a metro-city such as Delhi have attacked north-eastern citizens saying that they look like Chinese.
With that theory, anybody can be responsible or can take the credit of work by anybody else just because they look the same.
5: Fear-mongering and misinformation.
Remember the idiom, empty minds are home to the devil. We read it in school but proved true today. Covid-19 has forced everybody to stop working but many are working hard to spread fake news. From clapping together to lighting a ‘diya’ , there are all sorts of scientific explanations available on WhatsApp.
On top of that, there is a separate stream of messages claiming coronavirus is a bio-weapon from China. Well, if corona is a made-in-china product then we should not worry about it, it will stop working in a few days itself.
Finally, we did what was never expected. We turned a pandemic such as corona into a religious issue.
Poor news reporters who were forced to do journalism got this opportunity to continue their propaganda-driven news reporting. Basically, there is an overload of information with a lot of fake news. If this continues then your body can come back to shape after this lock-down but not your brain.
So you can do a few things to protect yourself in this lock-down. For example, exercise every day to vent out your frustration. Watch good shows. Spend quality time with your family. Eat healthy.
Practicing music can also be a good idea to relax your mind. If you are an extrovert then keep socializing on social media. Even when you are working from home, don’t forget to maintain work life balance. Don’t get anxious after seeing your friends’ exciting pics on social media. This doesn’t mean that you also have to learn something new. You can try simple stuff, maybe just relaxing. You can talk to your old friends from school or college.
You can also read books after all books are our best friends.
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