Rise in mental health issues during MCO


By S. Harrish

THERE could be a possible surge in mental health related problems as more people experience anxiety during the Movement Control Order period.

Psychology expert Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari told FreeMalaysiaToday that the MCO had indeed caused widespread anxiety as shown by the number of people flouting the rule on social distancing.

Muhsin said those who obsess about the Covid-19 pandemic can suffer an episode of severe distress.

“A prolonged MCO shutdown may lead to people becoming depressed in the long term. Keeping oneself physically away (from others) may lead to depression. If he or she already has depression or anxiety disorder, this may get aggravated further and possibly lead to a mental health crisis,” he said.

Worrying about the economic consequences of the shutdown on their livelihood may also exacerbate any mental health problems.

He said people should optimise and focus on activities they enjoy doing the most at home.

Muhsin also urged the public to speak about any distress they felt to someone they could trust, and to maintain a healthy diet and sleeping pattern.

“Don’t overeat or oversleep as a way to tackle your boredom.”

The shutdown period could be an opportunity to improve bonding among family members or with children.

He said those suffering from depression or anxiety may still see a psychiatrist or go to a mental health clinic during this time if their symptoms suddenly become overwhelming.

An exacerbation of symptoms may show up as insomnia, excessive worrying, severe depressed mood affecting your physical body (e.g. non-specific pain on your body), or suicidal tendencies.

However, he urged individuals to try and visit clinics located outside of hospital premises to reduce the chances of them spreading the Covid-19 infection.