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COVID-19 side effects: Pakistan sees 30 pc spike in mental illnesses

News Agencies | Updated on: 20 January 2022, 0:20 IST
Depression and Covid (Representative image)

Pakistan witnessed a spike of 30 per cent in mental illnesses due to COVID-19 in recent months, according to national and international health specialists and recent surveys conducted by the Sindh Mental Health Authority, a state-run government organization.

The latest survey conducted by the organization showed that depression and suicidal thoughts are two major problems that developed among coronavirus contracted patients. These problems are also seen in those who have even recovered from COVID. Senator Karim Khawaja, who heads the Sindh mental authority, said that around 40 per cent of the 1,500 survey respondents have reported suffering from low to high depression after being infected with the coronavirus, reported The Express Tribune.

While addressing a seminar in Karachi on Sunday, national and international experts also pointed out that the country has seen a 30 per cent surge in mental ailments due to the coronavirus, which has triggered psychiatric ailments in people who are already prone to mental health issues. Furthermore, Prof. Dr Asim Shah, the executive vice chair of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, US, said at least 25 per cent to 30 per cent increase in mental health issues has been observed in Pakistan during the pandemic, as the virus also triggered mental illness in people who recovered from the infectious disease, reported the newspaper.

Notably, Pakistan is facing its fifth deadly wave of COVID pandemic and cases are soaring each day. The first case of coronavirus in the country was reported in March 2020. Sindh and Karachi are seeing the majority of cases with a high COVID positivity ratio and Omicron variant cases are rising and amid this, the survey becomes a cause of concern for Pakistan. A professional psychologist, Khawaja said that some 25 per cent admitted to having suicidal thoughts after becoming infected or even after recovering from illness.

Afridi, who is also the editor of the Journal of Pakistan Psychiatric Society, said that the issues like joblessness have also impacted the mental health of people in Pakistan, reported the newspaper. He also pointed out that Pakistan has an insufficient number of psychiatrists to tackle the situation. "Currently, Pakistan has 600 psychiatrists, which is insufficient for a population of 210 million, in which mental illnesses are on the rise due to several social and economic reasons," he maintained.


First published: 20 January 2022, 0:20 IST