Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 25
COVID-19 induced lockdown and restrictions may have changed personalities like never before or so believe researchers across the world and at home.
As a growing mass of people present with varied consequences of the lockdown – ranging from acute anxiety to neurological disorders — specialists at Bengaluru-based National Institute for Mental Health and Neurosciences note that influenza viruses are historically known to cause long term disorders.
The range of impact is vast – from anxiety, boredom, panic attacks reported by people trapped with estranged partners through long periods of the lockdown and residual restrictions to a sense of personality alteration experienced by people housed with loving companions.
“The lockdown had multiple effects. Feelings of stress and a sense of loss of control over the circumstances was pervasive. Life habits changed, masks became a mandate. Movements were hampered. What we also saw in a growing number of people was severe mental health issues like depression, anxiety disorders, hypochondriasis, post-traumatic stress disorder, complicated grief and substance abuse,” NIMHANS review of the post COVID lockdown scenario reveals.
Experts say that social readjustment rating scales they use to measure personality disorders and changes do not yet have COVID-19 like pandemics or lockdown as factors.
“One could consider compiling an entirely new measure of life events related to this pandemic and its aftermath. These life events would perhaps have similar impacts on mental health and illnesses, like any other life event, unless it turns out to be something different, which only time will tell,” NIMHANS researchers say.
Significant mental health consequences of COVID-19 pandemic globally are however well established by now.
“Stress and other mental health concerns have stemmed initially from fears of infection, restriction of movement because of lockdown and later from the direct consequences of infection. Close on the heels of the pandemic was the enormous socio-economic impact, the effects of which are slowly unfurling,” the experts say.
The pandemic and consequential lockdown has also brought to the fore factors that are commonly recognised to precipitate suicide.