Mental Health and Covid-19
Over the last 18 months, the world has suffered a lot. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives to the pandemic and millions have suffered economic repercussions. There is no denying the fact that the pandemic has severely impacted everyone’s lives. These impacts not only include the effects the virus has had on the physical well-being of a person, but also include the ripple effect that it has had on the psychological and mental well-being of a person.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a state of wellbeing in which an individual realizes their capabilities to combat normal life stressors and work competencies in contributing to the belonged community, which is underpinned by six psychological elements comprising
(ii) meaning in life
(iv) healthy relationships with others
(v) environmental mastery and
(vi) personal growth
The issue of mental health, which usually stayed in the background, has come into the forefront due to Covid-19. Various studies have confirmed that several factors such as lockdown, self-isolation, quarantine, the threat of the virus, and social and economic discord have led to a massive decrease in the mental health condition of people throughout the world. There has also been a threefold rise in the cases of domestic violence and suicidal thoughts. As a result, cases of depression, confusion, stress, and anxiety are on a rise in people with no previous history of mental health issues.
There have been various factors impacting the of mental health of an individual. Few of these factors are as given below.
- The collapse of industries and businesses. Thousands of people had to lose their jobs and livelihood overnight and as a result, suffered significant financial losses. This has caused severe emotional distress.
- People who have been infected by the virus or people who are awaiting their test results are also susceptible to anxiety and stress.
- Healthcare workers and frontline officers are said to be one of the most vulnerable groups to mental health effects. They are exposed to death and excessive stress daily. As a result, they are prone to depression and anxiety. Healthcare workers often fear the safety of their loved ones and their family members as they are constantly exposed to the virus. This makes them vulnerable to developing psychological breakdowns comprising of severe fatigue, sleep disturbances, and health concerns.
- Young people are one of the most endangered groups to mental health issues. Children between the age of 10-19 constitute about 16% of the world’s total population. However, the last year has been significantly tough on them. Students who are staying alone and far away from their families have been extremely vulnerable. The fear of getting infected and not seeing their families again for an indefinite period has affected them psychosocially. Several students have also lost their part-time jobs, which was a significant source of their income. A recently conducted survey found out that 25% of young people have been suffering from cases of anxiety ever since the start of the pandemic.
Effect of Mental Health on Immune System
Stress indirectly impacts the immune system of our body. When a person suffers from stress, the body produces a hormone known as “Cortisol” to fight off the stress. Even though cortisol can tackle the issue of stress, it also produces sugar, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, all of which are responsible for increasing heart rate and elevate blood pressure. This as a result severely hampers the productivity of the immune cells.
Stress can produce changes in the overall body systems that have significant health risks.
One recent study on mice inferred a connection between stress, depression, and immune function. In the study, mice who were repeatedly exposed to stress developed an immune response that released inflammatory proteins into the system. This inflammation caused atrophy and impaired responses in a part of the brain, which in turn led to common depressive behaviours. This chain reaction is highly suggestive of a cause-and-effect relationship linking stress, immune function, and depression.
Depression is commonly known to cause a lack of energy. It can also lead to problems such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and poor sleep habits which can all lead to an increased risk for heart health problems including high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
More than ever, it has become imperative that people undertake appropriate steps and measures to counter the ill effects of mental health issues. Some of the steps that can be undertaken by people include meditation, exercise, and spending time with friends and family. One of the ways to reduce stress and anxiety is to make sure that our body is getting all the essential nutrients. These provide our immune system with all the natural protection they need to function at their best. However, due to the sedentary lifestyle and increase in the consumption of processed food, our body is not able to get the right amount and good quality of nutrients. This is where Immunity Boosters/food supplements can help us. Taking good quality and natural source immunity supplements can help ensure your daily minimum requirement of these nutrients. The most important vitamin for our immune system is Vitamin C as it a potent antioxidant protecting our body against several oxidative challenges. More information on Vitamin C and Immune Function can be found here.
Our bodies do not make this important vitamin, but we need it for the functioning of our immune system and to protect it from any pathogens. To get the maximum benefit, we must consume it every day and not just when our immune system is impacted. The best form of Vitamin C is from natural plant extracts which are easily absorbed by our system and are more bioavailable compared to synthetic ascorbic acid.
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in supporting the immune system. It helps control infections by gently tapping the brakes on the immune response in a way that prevents out of control inflammation that can be damaging and even deadly. Our immune system and body cannot function at their best without the basic building blocks they need to work properly. As a result, this will help you tackle the ill effect of stress and anxiety on your body. As study conducted by Ohio State University on how Zinc helps against infection by tapping brakes in immune response can be found here.
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