Infected or Not: The Mental Agony

Saturday, 23 January 2021



Infected or Not: The Mental Agony

Swapnil Bharali | September 20, 2020 14:24 hrs

An office colleague of mine called the other morning wanting an opinion. Apparently he had lost his sense of smell but showed no other Covid symptoms at all and wondered if he should test. 

Given the government protocols, I obviously advised him to. I called him a couple of days later; he had chosen not to test because a positive result was plain obvious and he had not regained his sense of smell yet. He chose to isolate himself completely, arm himself with an oximeter and the requisite medicines that his flat mate sourced for him and bide his time. 

The point I am trying to carry is the sense of apprehension that we have been subjected to while remaining completely uncertain of what exactly we have contracted in the name of this new infectious disease. And to what extent! Various patients have thrown up a wide variety of infection stories even as government data has currently pegged the death toll at roughly 600 in the state. The infection has been mild for some; they have gone through the Covid infection almost unknowingly and have succeeded in developing antibodies – essentially meaning that they are through with the danger for the time being. For many others, the disease has been perilous if not fatal. Youngsters and even teenagers have died from it while octogenarians have defeated it. 

The fallout in the society has been a prolonged mental agony for some. For others the apathy continues. 

But what has clearly been affected is the general mental health of the society at large; the lurking fear of whether you have actually caught the disease or are yet to, has taken a toll on the general mental peace. 

Stories of people waking up to dreams of having lost their sense of smell or taste or having a bad diarrhoea have become the order of the day such that an antibody test and its positive or negative result is both good and bad news. Beyond this, the prolonged lockdown and the uneasy unlock thereafter has resulted in mental issues for many and cases of depression and suicidal tendencies have been heard within the society. 

These are new issues – the sidelights of the Covid pandemic – that must be tackled and not swept under the carpet any longer. And it is now that psychiatric experts need to step in and figure out how to go about it.

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