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COVID-19 healthcare workers at increased risk of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression

COVID-19 healthcare workers at increased risk of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression

COVID-19 healthcare workers at increased risk of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression&nbsp | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Key Highlights

  • Mental health issues are a widespread challenge in the current scenario

  • As per latest research, healthcare staff and emergency respondents in COVID-19 are likely to suffer from one or more mental health issues

  • These issues can stress from acute stress disorders, anxiety, depression, insomnia, to alcohol abuse

New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to various collateral damages to people’s physical and mental health. While COVID-19 disease, caused by the novel coronavirus or the SARS-CoV-2 has its share of physical distress that it can cause, as per experts, the mental health effects of the pandemic are far worse than anticipated. With new patients of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression cropping up, and older patients seeing a relapse in their symptoms, some experts have said that a mental health issues pandemic is likely to follow the current, ongoing pandemic of COVID-19.

People who have suffered from COVID-19 themselves, have lost family members, or are part of the teams reporting the pandemic, or treating people with the disease, are inevitably more at risk of experiencing mental distress due to the pandemic. As per the latest research, medical professionals and healthcare workers may be at an increased risk of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression due to COVID-19.

Healthcare professionals at elevated risk of mental health issues due to COVID-19 pandemic

Healthcare workers and medical professionals have shown high resilience and mental, physical strength when it comes to dealing with a deadly disease such as COVID-19. However, as per the latest research, they may be at a high risk of mental health disorders due to the pandemic. 

The study was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. It found that doctors, nurses, and emergency responders involved in COVID care could be at risk of one, or even more mental health problems. These mental health issues can range from acute traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, problematic alcohol use, or even insomnia. 

For the study, researchers looked at 571 healthcare workers, including 473 emergency responders (firefighters, police, EMTs), and 98 hospital staff which included nurses and doctors. 

According to the results of the study, though the majority of health care professionals and emergency responders are not necessarily going to develop PTSD, prolonged stress that they are subjected to can lead to various mental health issues. 

“Some will be susceptible to a host of stress-related mental health consequences. By studying both resilient and pathological trajectories, we can build a scaffold for constructing evidence-based interventions for both individuals and public health systems,” said the researcher, Andrew J. Smith from the University of Utah in the US.

It was found that overall, 56 per cent of the respondents screened positive for at least one mental health disorder. The prevalence of each disorder ranged from 15-30 per cent of the respondents – with problematic alcohol use, insomnia, and depression being the most reported problems. 

The scientists found that healthcare workers who were exposed to the virus or who were at greater risk of infection because they were immunocompromised had a significantly increased risk of acute traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression.

The researchers suggest that identifying these individuals and offering them alternative roles could reduce anxiety, fear, and the sense of helplessness associated with becoming infected.

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