Coronavirus Outbreak Raises Mental Health Concerns

Strict regulations to control the spread of coronavirus in China are taking a toll on mental health as people are confined to their homes for weeks.
Health professionals say millions are struggling to cope with anxiety and fears over the future. Those under lockdown in Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, are particularly at risk.

Quarantine and Isolation

Quarantine and isolation are usually accompanied by unwelcome side effects, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. The medical professionals treating patients and managing quarantines often face mental-health burdens of their own. For China, containing and treating the virus must come first. But to successfully recover, mental-health care must be a part of the response. Long-term psychological effects could be among the outbreak’s most durable legacies, with consequences for the next epidemic.

Pandemics are not Just a Medical Phenomenon

Pandemics are not just a medical phenomenon; they affect individuals and society on many levels, causing disruptions. Stigma and xenophobia are two aspects of the societal impact of pandemic infectious outbreaks. Panic and stress have also been linked to outbreaks. As concerns over the perceived threat grow, people may start to collect (and hoard) masks and other medical supplies. This is often followed by anxiety-related behaviors, sleep disturbances, and overall lower perceived state of health. Individuals with mental illness may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of widespread panic and threat.

 

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