COVID-19 has brought along with it a set of side effects that can't be ignored any more. Mysophobia to clinical depression are just a handful of them. This constant overdrive to wash hands and be careful of contamination could lead to Mysophobia. "Any phobia, by definition, is an irrational or disproportionate fear of objects or situations. Mysophobia, similarly, is an irrational fear of dirt and contamination. The constant reminders that people are presently getting with respect to hand-washing has a very specific purpose.
"It is targeted at preventing the spread of the viral infection. Admittedly, being continuously reminded of it can make some people more worried about it and therefore go into overdrive. That is why it is very important that in educating people regarding hand-washing, we also educate them regarding the reason behind it. This minimises the chances of irrational fears setting in," advised Srishti Saha, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Fortis Anandapur hospital here.
Thus, chances are low, though admittedly not nil, that people may develop a phobia based on excessive focus on hand hygiene.
"The operative word here is excessive. If one feels that they may be overdoing things or worrying too much about the general ideas of dirt, contamination and their impact rather than just the corona virus specifically, it may be a good idea to consult a mental health professional," said Saha.
One of the minor side-effects could be a new Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) resulting from habits forced on somebody.
"There is a chance that cleaning habits being encouraged now, may lead to OCD like manifestations. The virus itself is so new that a lot is still not known about it. Consequently predicting its aftermath is extremely difficult. Though the possibilities may be low, there are chances that simply due to following of hygiene practices, people would go on to develop OCD," she said.
The psychological disorder OCD has a complex set of factors at its etiological origins. These include neuro-chemical imbalances, genetic malformations, personality structure and hereditary factors.
Though one must not assume that people's vulnerability to OCD is increasing due to washing behaviours that they are engaging in now, the intensity with which it is done by somebody denotes whether the behaviour is normal or disordered.
"Anything carried too far can have harmful consequences. So, while we absolutely must follow the hygiene practices being recommended, we must also take care not to overdo it and try to go back to our usual practices when the threat of the corona virus subsides. If OCD-like symptoms do become manifest, prompt professional intervention would help," she added.
With Stocks plummeting and people facing real life chances of losing jobs, she said one needs to focus on solvable parts of the problem such as maintaining good hygiene, following healthy lifestyle, being cautious about symptoms, and seeking medical help, if in doubt. Also, there is a need to keep oneself mentally calm while going through quarantine. The lockdown and its impact can have a psychological effect. If not dealt wisely, the entire scenario can lead to anxiety and depression.
"As far as the currently unsolvable aspects of the situation are concerned, focus on emotional wellness. Try to divert attention away from the negatives, engage in recreational activities that you've always wanted to do, stay connected remotely with loved ones, engage in spirituality, and remember, nothing lasts forever. If it feels too overwhelming or difficult to manage alone, speak to a professional. At the end of it all, hope for the best."
Another effect of the advent of Novel Corona Virus is being locked up in the house. In its second stage in India, as declared by experts, the country is on a self lockdown mode with people being advised to stay indoors As far As possible.
As cities go on social distancing mode, people will be forced to lead a sedentary life. A leading Dietician from a private city hospital Sohinee Seal advises food with rich intake of Vitamin C to build immunity.
"Add vitamin C containing fruits in your diet, along with antioxidant-rich food items in daily menu. Water intake should be high. At the core of a balanced diet are foods that are low in unnecessary fats and sugar but high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
K.M. Mandana, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, of a leading private hospital in Kolkata, adds: "People with diabetes, Hypertension and high Lipid service factors are already vulnerable along with those with cardiac disease. They are more prone to succumb to these shock effects. Be it environmental, with the virus, or the social with socks tumbling, jobs at stake and general slowing down of economy. It may not be fatal, but in such events they are more susceptible," said Mandana.