A recent survey in US revealed that as much as 80 per cent of that country’s adult population was experiencing problems associated with prolonged stress. In India too, a similar situation seems to prevail. The pandemic, disasters both natural and man-made, like the Telangana floods and the Vizag gas leak, and evolving discontent, such as the situation that has led to the ongoing farmers’ protest, have created an overriding atmosphere of gloom. The quality of happiness appears to have been lost.
Dr K Srinivas, Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist at KARLA Mind Center, Hyderabad, explains how the pandemic has affected mental well-being, pushing many people towards issues like anxiety and depression. He says, “From a psychological perspective, there was a huge paradigm shift. During the pandemic, post the imposition of the lockdown, many patients had relapses of mental conditions for which they had been treated earlier. The mental disturbance people experienced during the initial weeks of the lockdown, and the trauma of the event are being felt even today.”
According to Dr. Srinivas, mental disorders quadrupled during the lockdown. People had to cope with fear (of death of self or a loved one, of failure, loss of income, of another lockdown, another pandemic, of having to take a lot of medication to manage their mental health, or, in the case of those already battling mental ailments, fear of having to discontinue therapy because of the lockdown). There were also those who set themselves unrealistic problem-solving goals, and had to contend with the prospect of these goals not being met. “It even got to the point that we were unable to get the pulse of certain patients,” said Dr Srinivas.
Most mental problems were fuelled by of loss of jobs, increased free time, uncertain future and career, loss of social interaction and by loneliness.
“The very first step is to educate people about the state of their mental health. Ideally, we need to make them understand what they are going through before we move on to prescribing medication. We ask patients to observe their symptoms and how these symptoms impede their functionality,” the neuro-psychologist says.
Shedding light on post-traumatic effects, he says, “Although the pandemic is phasing out, there are clusters of people who are more likely than others to succumb to fear and fear-led depression. These include introverts, anxious people and people with drastic personalities. The post-traumatic effects of the pandemic in such people are likely to continue for a decade from here.”
Seconding Dr Srinivas’ opinion, Dr Banda Lakshman Sharma, a senior psychologist at Arogyadham, a Hyderabad-based Psychology Centre, highlights the degree of damage that the pandemic has caused to mental health. He says, “People in general have a degree of fear and nervousness, but due to COVID-19 it has increased manifold, and its effects are likely to remain up to 30 years. They may even be carried forward to the upcoming generation. People are slowly losing hope in the future. They are worried about their success. The fear of failure and ill-health are amongst the most dominant fears that have manifested in people’s minds today.”
Explaining the repercussions of chronic stress and stress-led diseases, he says “When people experience fear and nervousness, their thinking capabilities reduce. Because of this, their perception is damaged. Mental illnesses like OCD, Bipolar Disease and Schizophrenia have increased.”
Saying that happiness has been replaced by worry in people’s minds, leading to loneliness and a hopeless state, he notes that there has been a significant increase in the number of patients at his clinic.
In India, where mental problems have begun to gain due recognition only recently, people are still highly sceptical about the efficacy of therapy. Dr Sharma suggests some measures that people can practice from the comfort of their homes to control anxiety, stress, depression etc. to a certain degree.
Cultivate EQ: Develop emotional intelligence rather than emotional thinking, which reduces the capacity to cope with difficult situations. To develop emotional intelligence one must take training from a professional. The trainer will give certain practices to the individual seeking the training. These practices have to be followed everyday for an extended period of time before these newly induced thinking patterns replace the old self deteriorating ones. This procedure may be time consuming but can transform a person’s life forever.
Practice Savasana: When the spinal cord is straight, it leads to a sound body and a sound mind. Practice Savasana for 15 minutes, five days a week. This will result in increased immunity, increased happiness, improved blood circulation, strengthening of the digestive system, and control of diabetes.
Steps to do Savasana
(Corpse Pose )
l Lie flat on your back keeping legs separated.
l Keep your arms at your side and your palms facing upwards and relax.
l Close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly through the nostrils.
l Start concentrating on each organ of the body starting from the head, all the way down to the feet.
l On each inhale and exhale, let your body feel relaxed. Let your tension, stress, depression and worry slowly fade away as you relax.
Benefits of Savasana
(Corpse Pose )
l Savasana improves blood circulation.
l It helps in reducing stress.
l Savasana boosts energy.
l Relaxes your muscles.
l Savasana helps reduce headaches.
Have a head massage with Panchagavya ghee or consume it
What is Panchagavya Ghrita | It is an Aruyvedic medicine, in herbal ghee form. It is a concoction of cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee. Along with the five constituents that come from the cow, it also contains jaggery, banana, tender coconut and water.
How to use Panchagavya Ghrita | Continuous worry and stress damages the nervous system. Applying Panchagavya Ghrita on the head will help withstand stress better. Two drops of the ghee can also be placed in each nostril to strengthen the nervous system. The same ghee can be consumed twice a day in the proportion of 15 ml ghee : 50 ml water.
Benefits of Panchagavya Ghrita | 1. It’s anti-convulsing properties prevent or reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other convulsions. 2. It is especially indicated in psychogenic and neurogenic disorders such as Apasmara (Epilepsy), Unmada (Mania/Psychosis). 3. It gives strength to the brain, nerves, eyes, rectum and other body organs.