CHENNAI: The days of dismissing cold, cough and/or sneeze as normal is a thing of the past. Mental health experts feel that staying home and being constantly exposed to Covid-related news is making people anxious.
Govind Raj (33), who normally has a smoker’s cough hit the panic button after Covid-19 wave swept across Chennai. “Although the cough subsided, my family asked me to take a test and thankfully it was negative. However, thoughts of having underlying symptoms related to Covid forced me to see a doctor and even reassurances by him did not help with the anxiety,” says Govind. Govind underwent a full body check-up after consulting another doctor.
Even doctors have voiced health anxiety issues. Aravindan (name changed), a PG doctor in a GH in North Chennai, points out that assisting in Covid-19 ward daily has been taking a toll. He says, “I am constantly worried that I might contract the virus and associated lung issues.
“It is not easy to work here as there are cases of asymptomatic patients developing sudden lung complications and also multiple organ failures. The worry ‘What if I get Covid’ is 24/7,’’ says Aravindan.
Dr Shalini Janardhan, consultant psychiatrist at Apollo Hospitals, says that there are people who require constant reassurances that their health is fine. “They may interpret every little thing as a serious illness,’’ she says.
Dr Shalini says that health anxiety can be temporary due to the pandemic as people come across various news and Google symptoms, but if anxiety becomes pathological, it needs counselling and treatment. “People need to trust their doctor,’’ she added. Sahithya Raghu, consultant psychologist at Gleneagles Global Hospital, says how a person develops anxiety depends on the age group, stress levels and whether the person is a constant worrier. “Those with anxiety must work on stress management and relaxation methods. They can even talk to counsellors.”