Rashid Paul

Coronavirus: Obsession with news can take people to a level of pathological anxiety

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Getting overanxious and panicky will affect our socio economic behavior in the long run: Say experts

Srinagar: Excessive news watching relating to Coronairus disease pandemic can take people to the level of pathological anxiety, warn mental health experts. Engaging in small productive chores within homes can help them navigate related stress during ongoing lockdown, they say.

Kashmir is familiar to lockdowns and restrictions than any part of the world and its people have adapted to a perpetual setting of insecurity to life.

The challenges thrown by the COVID 19 plague are however taking a new toll in the Valley where a fair number of its residents are already battling various psychosomatic disorders caused by a protracted political conflict, say experts.

The current situation where mothers feel safety of their children in keeping away from them, will definitely come to an end, reassures Dr Yasir Hassan Rather, noted neuropsychiatry expert of Kashmir.

“These are one of the most turbulent times the sea of humanity is going through. Feeling threatened in the current situation is realistic anxiety”, he said.

The expert says that the current fear can be considerably normalized.  “Avoid becoming too much newsy and do not get hooked to your television sets or world wide webs that run the 24X7 Corona related fatalities”, suggests Dr Yasir, an Associate Professor in Kashmir’s oldest  established medical college.

The expert advises the people to make optimal use of the media especially the social media which for most of the times keeps loaded with unrealistic, fake data and images.

“Corona, he said, is a pandemic but it cannot consume each one of us.  Its mortality rate (according to the latest data) is only 1.5 percent while as there are other infectious diseases which have a much higher morbidity percentage”, he said.

The World Health Organization in 2018 reported 1,40, 000 deaths by measles worldwide  although the disease has a cost effective vaccine available.

Apart from keeping hygiene and social distancing the expert advises people to restructure their lives by keeping themselves busy in small productive jobs at home during the lock down period which is expected to be extended beyond April 14.

“People can develop new skills and learn new things during this period. Gardening, cooking, and physical exercise can keep us physically fit and mentally sound”, he said.

Dr Junaid Nabi, psychiatrist consultant at Government Medical College  Srinagar says deep breathing exercises, using intellect for spiritual and religious pursuits including reading of religious texts can keep people happy in these movements of crisis.

Performing rituals (like nimaz for Muslims) can also be supportive psychologically, he said.

The psychiatrist also stresses on intelligent viewing of television and use of social media. “Avoid the bad news on Corona. Entertaining and informative programmes and book reading help a lot in the contemporary times of anxiety”, he said.

The lockdown forced by the plague according to the psychiatrist is a god’s gift in which people can strengthen their emotional bonds with their loved ones using the digital media.

A specialist in geriatrics, the doctor advises the people to attend to the needs of the elderly in their families. This can give us the much needed solace, he said.

Window talking between the neighbors prevalent in olden times need to be revived to engage the minds, he suggested.

“Obsession with news only can take people to a level of pathological anxiety” warns Dr Ajaz Ahmad Khan, clinical psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health Neurosciences Srinagar.

“We should keep ourselves busy in positive chores. The whole world is struggling against the pandemic. Getting overanxious and panicky will affect our socio economic behavior in the long run”, he said.

The psychologist also stresses on involvement with the family. “Video calling can be the medium to be in contact with your friends and relations living beyond your physical reach. Besides a 45 minute regular physical exercise has many physical and mental advantages”, he said.

The whole world is in a problem. Our extraordinary attention to it by watching the pessimistic news will create problems for us as we can be overwhelmed by negative energies, warned the psychologist.

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