The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has struck both people's mental health and physical health, with necessary protocols like social distancing and restricted mobility making the average Indian feel alienated and low-spirited.
In a country that already grappled with silent mental health issues pre-pandemic, the current Covid-19 situation has further exacerbated stress and anxiety at an unprecedented scale, reaching all strata and ages.
Ayurvedic expert and founder of Vedas Cure, Vikas Chawla, shares that people may experience a wide variety of psychological effects as a result of infectious outbreaks.
He says: "Individually, new psychological symptoms in people without mental illness may precipitate or intensify the condition of someone with pre-existing mental illness, causing anxiety to their caregivers. Regardless of their exposure to the virus, one can constantly feel fear, anxiety and helplessness about being sick, which may lead to mental breakdowns and poor mental health."
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"The pandemic has severely affected the economy of our country. Many industries such as hospitality, tourism, education and entertainment are close to or have shut down. Due to this many people have either lost their jobs or their remuneration has been cut down by as much as 50 per cent. Such kinds of loss of jobs and/or income has also put people under a lot of stress and mental pressure," says Chawla.
Economic fluctuations, unemployment, increased competition, and unattainable high expectations contribute to a rise in psychological and psychosomatic disorders such as frustration, anxiety, depression, phobias, and personality changes. Stress is said to be responsible for nearly 75 per cent of all diseases. And if not diagnosed and treated promptly, they may lead to extreme depression, insomnia, sleep disorders, migraines, and headaches, among other issues, he adds.
According to him, Ayurveda has effective ways of helping an individual to deal with stress and anxiety. Hundreds of medicinal plants with immune modulator, anti-oxidant, and memory-enhancing properties are available in Ayurveda. Brahmi, ashwagandha, bhringraj, tulsi, ghee, and natural herbs can help relax the mind and address most of these disorders, he opines.
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"It is important to resolve and handle certain concerns naturally in order to live a happier life. A well-known memory-booster, Brahmi is an angel in disguise for your mental well-being, overall. It has a relaxing, anti-stress effect on the central nervous system. Its frequent intake will help you combat anxiety by calming you down."
He further adds,"Bhringraj can detoxify your body, encourage oxygen supply to your brain, and make your brain healthier and stronger, helping it to fend off stress and handle its effects better when ingested orally in the form of Bhringraj herbal teas and powder dissolved in water. Ashwagandha has a long list of health benefits, including improved endurance, immunity, decreased inflammation, and defense against cognitive and neurological disorders. It can also assist you in managing and reducing anxiety. This herb's extract has soothing properties and encourages anti-stress adaptogenic activity in the brain."
Due to the existence of anti-oxidants that can help reduce oxidative stress and free radicals generated in the body due to stress and anxiety, Ayurveda also recommends consuming tulsi as a preventive measure and a remedy to combat stress and anxiety.
"Slow massage with certain essential oils helps with migraines, insomnia, and depression. A variety of essential oils and other herbal formulations are available in the market by various brands, including ours, which have proven to be very effective. A quick head massage with Lavender essential oil particularly is highly recommended before going to bed as it encourages immediate relaxation and sleep," Chawla concludes.
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Berlin, May 30 (IANS) The coronavirus-induced lockdown made people 40 per cent less active, and tripled the potential risk for depression, finds a large study led by German researchers.The significant decrease in physical activity levels and well-being can spur a hidden "pandemic within the pandemic", warned 20 scientists from 14 countries."Governments and those responsible for health systems should take our findings seriously," emphasised the team headed by Jan Wilke from the Institute for Sport Sciences at the Goethe University, Frankfurt.About 13,500 participants reported physical activity levels, and 15,000 participants reported their mental and physical well-being before and during the pandemic-related restrictions in April/May 2020.Moderate exercise like brisk walking, running, cycling decreased by an average of 41 per cent according to self-reported data; while vigorous exercise fell by a 42 per cent.The decline in activity was particularly noticeable among people over 70 years of age, who were 56 to 67 per cent less active than before."We know that physical inactivity, especially in older people, can lead to changes that are difficult to reverse after only two weeks -- for example, in body fat percentage or insulin sensitivity," the researchers said.Further, 73 per cent of the study participants said their well-being deteriorated. The perceived quality of life as measured by the World Health Organisation well-being Index, which measures mood, relaxation, activity, rest and interest, dropped on average from 68 per cent before the pandemic to 52 per cent during the first lockdown phase.Above all, people felt "less active and full of energy" and led a life "less filled with interesting things".The proportion of very low scores indicating a possible risk of depression tripled from 15 to 45 per cent."These effects were stronger among women and younger people," the study says. "More attention should be paid to the needs of women in particular, as they are significantly more vulnerable."Nonetheless, 14 to 20 per cent of the respondents also stated that their health had improved. The reason could be more family time, greater work autonomy, fewer business trips, or a changed perception of health as possible reasons, the researchers said.--IANSrvt/vd
New York, May 29 (IANS) Waking up just one hour earlier could reduce a person's risk of major depression by 23 per cent, suggests a sweeping new genetic study.The study indicates that if someone who normally goes to bed at 1 a.m. goes to bed at midnight instead and sleeps the same duration, they could cut their risk by 23 per cent; if they go to bed at 11 p.m., they could cut it by about 40 per cent."We found that even one-hour earlier sleep timing is associated with significantly lower risk of depression," said researcher Celine Vetter from the University Of Colorado At Boulder.Some research suggests that getting greater light exposure during the day, which early-risers tend to get, results in a cascade of hormonal impacts that can influence mood.Others note that having a biological clock, or circadian rhythm, that trends differently than most peoples' can in itself be depressing.For the study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, the team turned to data from a DNA testing company and the biomedical database UK Biobank. They then used a method called "Mendelian randomisation" that leverages genetic associations to help decipher cause and effect.More than 340 common genetic variants, including variants in the so-called "clock gene" PER2, are known to influence a person's chronotype, and genetics collectively explains 12-42 per cent of our sleep timing preference.The researchers assessed de-identified genetic data on these variants from up to 850,000 individuals, including data from 85,000 who had worn wearable sleep trackers for 7 days and 250,000 who had filled out sleep-preference questionnaires.In the largest of these samples, about a third of surveyed subjects self-identified as morning larks, 9 per cent were night owls and the rest were in the middle. Overall, the average sleep mid-point was 3 a.m., meaning they went to bed at 11 p.m. and got up at 6 a.m.With this information in hand, the researchers turned to a different sample which included genetic information along with anonymised medical and prescription records and surveys about diagnoses of major depressive disorder.Using novel statistical techniques, they asked: Do those with genetic variants which predispose them to be early risers also have a lower risk of depression? The answer is a firm yes, the study noted.--IANSvc/ash
New York, May 26 (IANS) Can TV shows like '13 Reasons Why' help teens navigate bullying, suicidal thoughts, depression and other mental health issues? Yes, say researchers, but only when these issues are depicted with empathy.The study indicates that these kinds of challenging and realistic stories inspire youth to talk about and learn more about mental health"Our research found that when teens watch TV shows that portray mental health issues, they actually talk about it with their peers, parents and partners," said researcher Yalda Uhls from the University of California -- Los Angeles.For the study, to be published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the center conducted several studies examining Netflix's controversial series "13 Reasons Why".It is a teen drama that first aired in 2017 and drew both worldwide acclaim and condemnation for its graphic depictions of suicide, sexual assault, domestic violence, bullying, homelessness and school shootings. The team wanted to learn how the programme impacted the mental health of teens who viewed it.In a study of 157 children between the ages of 13 and 17 from across the country, 68 watched Season 3 of "13 Reasons Why," while the others did not. All participants completed a survey at the beginning of the study about mental health, depression, bullying, sexual assault and related topics and another at the end that asked, among other questions, whether they had sought out information about these issues.Nearly all the teens -- 62 of 68 -- who watched the programme reported having looked for information on mental health topics related to what they saw. A vast majority of them also reported discussing the issues it raised with others -- especially suicide, mental health and bullying.The report recommends that, like the producers of "13 Reasons Why," studios create and provide credible, engaging resources with accurate information to accompany TV shows and films designed for teens that address mental health and related issues.--IANSvc/na
New York, April 22 (IANS) Pregnant and postpartum women reported high levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and post-traumatic stress during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a worldwide survey.Such high levels of distress may have potential implications for women and for foetal and child health and development, said researchers from Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the US."We expected to see an increase in the proportion of pregnant and postpartum women reporting mental health distress, as they are likely to be worried or have questions about their babies' health and development, in addition to their own or their family's health," said Karestan Koenen, Professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the varsity."However, the number of women who had significantly elevated symptoms was much larger than what had previously been published during the pandemic," Koenen added.The study is published online in the journal PLOS ONE.To gauge the mental health of pregnant and postpartum women during the pandemic, the team conducted an anonymous, online, cross-sectional survey of women in 64 countries between May 26, 2020 and June 13, 2020.Of the 6,894 participants, substantial proportions of women scored at or above the cutoffs in widely-used psychological screening tools for elevated levels of anxiety/depression (31 per cent), loneliness (53 per cent), and post-traumatic stress in relation to Covid-19 (43 per cent), despite the fact that only 117 women (2 per cent) had been diagnosed with Covid-19 and 510 (7 per cent) had been in contact with someone with Covid-19.The levels of psychiatric distress were significantly higher than previously published data on such distress in the general population during the pandemic and among pregnant and postpartum women before the pandemic.Seeking information about the pandemic five or more times a day from any source (e.g., social media, news, or word-of-mouth) was associated with more than twice the odds of elevated post-traumatic stress in relation to Covid-19 and anxiety/depression.Worries about children and childcare and economic worries were also important factors in women's mental health.--IANSrvt/vd
New York, April 13 (IANS) The onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, which resulted in the sudden isolation of families together at home, gave rise to depression and anxiety at levels high enough that professional help is needed now, a new study has warned.In the initial months of the pandemic, parents reported that their children were experiencing much higher levels of "internalising" problems like depression and anxiety, and "externalising" problems such as disruptive and aggressive behaviour, than before the pandemic.The issues have now gone out of control as the second wave of the pandemic is now surging.According to researchers from the Pennsylvania State University in the US, the children were 2.5 times and 4 times more likely to report externalising and internalising problems, respectively.Parents were 2.4 times more likely to report "clinically significant" high levels of depression after the pandemic hit than before.They also experienced lower levels of co-parenting quality with their partners."The size of these changes are considered very large in our field and are rarely seen," said Mark Feinberg, research professor of health and human development at Penn State."We saw not just overall shifts, but greater numbers of parents and children who were in the clinical range for depression and behaviour problems, which means they were likely struggling with a diagnosable disorder and would benefit from treatment," Feinberg noted in the paper published in the journal Family Process.For the study, the team used data from 129 families, which included 122 mothers and 84 fathers, with an average of 2.3 children per family.The research gave insight into just how devastating periods of family and social stress can be for parents and children, and how important a good co-parenting relationship can be for the family well-being."Stress in general -- whether daily hassles or acute, crisis-driven stress -- typically leads to greater conflict and hostility in family relationships," Feinberg said."If parents can support each other in these situations, the evidence from past research indicates that they will be able to be more patient and more supportive with their children, rather than becoming harsher and angrier," he added.--IANSrvt/dpb
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