COVID-19 pandemic can lead to wave of mental, neurological problems, experts warn
MANILA— Late January this year, Nikko de Guzman’s mother, Joji, was hospitalized after contracting COVID-19.
Nikko, his father and sister also tested positive for the coronavirus and had to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
“We were very careful. Bihira nga kami lumabas sa bahay… We never thought na makukuha pa rin namin as a whole family ang COVID-19,” De Guzman said.
“We had to quarantine ourselves and do more physical distancing at home… Kumain sa sariling kwarto, ‘di kami pwedeng lumapit sa isa’t isa,” he added.
(We ate in our own rooms, we cannot be close with each other.)
After almost 3 weeks, the family recovered from the disease, except for Joji, who died of complications from COVID-19 at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in BGC.
For De Guzman, his family’s battle with COVID-19 took a toll on their mental health, especially after experiencing the loss of a loved one.
“Sa mental side, I had to deal with what’s happening here, most especially sa situation namin sa family. Ang hirap… ‘Yung nakikita sa social media eh. Andaming nawawalan ng work, andaming nagkakasakit—COVID man o hindi, then with what’s happening sa politics. How they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he explained.
(Mentally… it was difficult. When you look at social media, a lot of people do not have work, many have been infected with COVID-19 and other diseases, then with what’s happening sa politics. How they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
He went on, “Sa family ko naman, I trusted na uuwi ang mom ko from the hospital. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it. Ang COVID-19 kasi hindi lang siya basta-basta sakit. It really can kill you. Ang virus na ito is a traitor… Sabi ko sa sarili ko, my battle has just begun.”
(I expected my mom to go home from the hospital. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it. COVID-19 is not just an ordinary illness. This virus is a traitor.)
A psychiatrist stressed the importance of taking care of the mental health of COVID-19 survivors.
According to the largest study so far published on the mental toll COVID has on survivors, 1 in 3 people who have overcome the novel coronavirus suffer from a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis 6 months on.
The research, printed in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, pointed out that of the 236,379 patients diagnosed with COVID-19, 17 percent suffered from anxiety and 14 percent from mood disorders.
“You just imagine, you are COVID-positive. There is a feeling na am I going to live, be okay, intubated, stay in the ICU? ‘Yun ang mga bagay na pumapasok sa isipan ng isang pasyente,” Dr. Bernadette Arcena told ABS-CBN News.
“Being alone day and night, ‘yun ang devastating daw sa mga pasyente natin,” she added.
(Being alone was the most devastating, according to our patients.)