Covid, job fears take heavy toll on cooped-up professionals

Covid, job fears take heavy toll on cooped-up professionals

New Delhi: The Covid-19 pandemic is causing increased panic attacks among India’s working professionals, say psychiatrists and mental wellness therapists.

Fear of the coronavirus infection and death as well as anxiety over the economic uncertainty and possibility of job loss are the main likely triggers for this, according to them.

Hospitals and mental wellness firms such as Cosmos Institute of Mental Health & Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, 1to1help.net and ekincare said they were getting two-to-three times more calls from working professionals now than before India went into the lockdown.

“Many are also calling up as they are feeling cooped up inside their houses and have been forced to follow a very different and isolated lifestyle,” said Archana Bisht, the founder of 1to1help.net that provides employee wellness services to companies.

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Bisht recently counselled a man who was living away from his family. A colleague had contracted the virus and despite being tested negative, the fear of having contracted the disease was triggering panic attacks, she said.

Ekincare founder Kiran Kalakuntla said 53 people had consulted the corporate health benefits startup between March 20 and April 30.

Depression, Anxiety-Like Symptoms

“The consults were mainly regarding panic disorder, anxiety, increased stress levels and insomnia. We also did consultations for issues such as headache and gastric upset, which when investigated further had only extreme stress and anxiety as the main reasons,” ekincare’s Kalakuntla said.

Sameer Parikh, the director of the Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences at Fortis Healthcare, said a larger number of people were now exhibiting depression and anxiety-like symptoms. Many of them were having these issues for the first time.

Many young professionals have become highly paranoid about the situation, said Sunil Mittal, a psychiatrist at CIMBS in New Delhi.

A 26-year-old woman from Noida, an employee at a multinational company, for instance, started rigorously washing up her hands and feet so much so that her skin starting peeling, Mittal said. “When she finally came to us, the disorder had worsened, it started interfering with her daily routine,” he said. “She stopped taking bath and even eating.” The woman is still under treatment, he added.




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