Pandemic restrictions are messing with people's minds

By Thu Anh   August 10, 2021 | 12:00 am PT
Pandemic restrictions are messing with people's minds
Bui Vien beer street in HCMC's District 1 is empty amid Covid-19 social distancing, July 9, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Since her restaurant-karaoke parlor chain had to shut down indefinitely due to Covid-19, Nga has been suffering constantly from anxiety and stress, and finding sleep impossible.

It used to be a money-spinner before the pandemic hit, but since then has been losing steadily. For months now the 60-year-old woman has been unable to rest even with sedatives.

Le Thuy Hang, a doctor at the HCMC University Medical Center, said Nga has had therapy, acupuncture, massage, and other alternative treatments.

After two weeks of daily sessions, she manages to get two to four hours of sleep a night.

Another woman, Loan, 42, lost her job as a hairdresser. With her only source of income gone and having to raise a small child, she also experienced anxiety and was unable to sleep. She was eventually diagnosed with depression.

Following a month of treatment she can now sleep better and her anxiety has reduced somewhat, but with the factors causing her depression still unresolved she still needs to take pills to feel comfortable.

Every week the HCMC University Medical Center receives around 20-30 people afflicted by anxiety and sleep disorders, even severe depression.

A common thread running through most of the cases is of lives being upended by Covid. Most of them are workers, managers or business owners, whose livelihoods are no longer a given as the pandemic wreaks havoc on all aspects of society.

HCMC’s 13 million population comprises people from everywhere and all walks of life. With growing living standards, activities like eating out, entertainment, going to school and to work had become a natural part of life.

Hang pointed out that Covid-19 had changed all that.

"The loss of income has severely impacted the mental health of some patients."

Social distancing rules had severely disrupted social interactions.

As people stayed confined within the four walls of their homes, stress built up and eventually spilled over.

The negative news cycle about the rising number of new cases and deaths every day did not help either. Add fake news to the mix and the result was more and more anxiety over Covid.

News about vaccination could also stress people out, with people wondering about when they would get their shots and whether they would have any side effects.

Those seeing themselves exhibiting signs of anxiety and stress like bad mood, loss of appetite, fatigue, and sleeping difficulties should seek medical help as early as possible to prevent things from spiraling out of control and a further deterioration of their mental health, doctors said.

*Names of patients have been changed for anonymity.

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