By Dr Saeed Ahmed Ali
LAHORE, Mar 22 (APP):History testifies that humans, throughout the life have been battling and tackling the difficult situations, such as epidemics, pandemics and diseases by facing various deadlier-viruses since the time human species had evolved into modern identity and form.
Whenever such problems or tribulations occur, definitely there had been an impact of scarceness, fear, panic or psychological distress on the minds of the people. However the nations, who kept their nerves strong and mental capability to cope with such situations, succeeded in overcoming these calamities and hard conditions.
The new COVID-19 has raised distress at such a level that the World Health Organization (WHO) had to issue guidelines recently for protecting mental health of the masses during the outbreak, around the globe.
“Avoid watching, reading or listening to news that cause you to feel anxious or distressed; seek information mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones,” WHO advised.
Regarding Coronavirus outbreak the world health body had expressed the concern that an info-demic of misinformation and rumors, was being spread more quickly than the current outbreak of the COVID-19.
“And if the media are more careful with language, they can help reduce the stigmatization of people who catch the virus,” it said.
It is worth mentioning here that to avoid the stigmatization and panic, the WHO has given the official name to the disease giving the detail as “Co” stands for Corona, “Vi” for virus and “D” for disease and ‘19’ is because the disease emerged in 2019.
Medical Superintendent (MS) Services Hospital Lahore, Dr Iftikhar Ahmed told APP that Ebola, Rabies, HI smallpox, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS),Dengue ,Influenza, Rotavirus and SARS CoV viruses, were more deadlier than COVID-19.
He said that panic and fear based rumors and fake information spread faster than the virus.
United States’ study report issued by the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)body, has revealed that due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, everyone was in a state of fear, scare and panic, but there was another even deadlier virus which people have forgetting about, the flu.
The weekly influenza surveillance based data of CDC, show that at least 12,000 people died from influenza between October 1, 2019 to February. 1, 2020,claiming that the number of deaths in US might had been as high as 30,000.
Head of Psychiatry Department, Services Hospital Lahore, Dr Samira Q Bokhari told APP that stress and fear were the normal responses to any adversity.
Proper precautionary measures were the solution to overcome the apprehensions regarding current global health crisis.
“Understanding the disease itself, adopting effective and practical measures to secure oneself from the disease is the need of the hour and helps to ease the mental health situation” Dr Samira said.
“Extreme anxiety or panic could add to the problems which become potential hurdle to practical solutions”, she informed.
Another noted Psychiatrist Dr Samar Hussain in his recent research work on the prevailing situation has found out that talking too much on COVID-19, could influence those who lived around you, adding extreme anxiety creates emotion contagion and spread panic which is more dangerous than virus.
Analyzing the ongoing situation in the country Dr Samar noted that focusing on catastrophic thoughts and predictions, could lead one to exaggerated anxiety and panic, which then could easily be transmitted to his children or family members.
After consistent watch of news on social media could add worries, and consequently, to soothe worries and fears, people search for more answers which leads toward distress, he observed.
But ominous signals and rumors such as rising death tolls, stock exchange or strong economic impacts, cancellations of the major events, school and shopping mall closures, could seriously disturb or harm the balance of thinking power and imagination, he noted.
World renowned psychiatrist Dr Baruch Fischhoff, a Howard Heinz University professor, observed that the fear and scare of coronavirus has gripped the world.
Giving the psychological remedy to a bi-weekly podcast ‘Speaking of Psychology’ from the American Psychological Association (APA), Dr Fischhoff said that first thing that people could do in the current situation, was to find a trusted source of information which they could properly follow, adding that accurate news source would insulate them from rumors and help get a clear picture to let
them see that how things were being changed, around the particular region and globe.
This observation will give them mental relief and psychological remedy, he