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Anxiety, depression among patients with pre-existing mental health conditions on the rise: Psychiatrists

ANI | Updated: Apr 12, 2020 06:06 IST

By Sahil Pandey
New Delhi [India], April 12 (ANI): As the lockdown imposed to curb the COVID-19 crisis reaches day 19, mental health illness has become a poignant concern for health experts with doctors stating that patients with pre-existing mental health illnesses are prone to relapsing due to the fear of getting infected.
While speaking to ANI, mental health experts revealed that issues like anxiety and depression are on a rise among their patients and maintaining good mental health has become the need of the hour.
"The most common problem patients are complaining of is that they are depressed and anxious. Even if they have a minor cough, they become depressed and anxious that they may have contracted COVID-19 and are transferring it to others," Dr Rajiv Mehta, vice-chairman of the Psychiatric Division at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital told ANI.
Taking about the behavioural changes observed in his patients, Dr Mehta said, "It is the rumination of a single thought. What will happen and how we will be saved. Anxiety and panic, dryness of mouth, palpitations, nausea is observed in them." He added that the Centre's action allowing teleconsultation for patients was a welcome step.

Dr Nand Kumar, professor of the Psychiatric Department at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), informed that during lockdown most of the patients with mental health issues are facing a lack of social connectivity.
"I am personally calling up my patients for their follow up consultations over the phone. The major challenge for already diagnosed patients is that their disease is relapsing because of the absence of social connectivity and unavailability of medicines," Kumar said.
It is important to note that the Union Health Ministry in collaboration with experts from AIIMS and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) has developed innovative activities for people to boost their mental health during the period of lockdown in the country in the wake of COVID-19.
At RML hospital, doctors narrated a similar situation. Dr Smitha Desphande, head of the Psychiatric Department, said that mental health illness cannot be ignored.
"We are getting patients who are having a serious relapse of their pre-existing mental health complications due to scare of COVID-19. Patients with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are suffering the most. A majority of our patients are now unable to visit the hospital due to unavailability of transport. With this, we assume that OPDs would see an upsurge in mental health issues once the lockdown is over," Dr Smitha said.
The total number of positive COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to 7,703, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on April 11. As per a notification by the ICMR at 9 pm on Saturday, a total of 1,79,374 samples from 1,64,773 individuals have been tested. (ANI)