Suffering from death anxiety? Here’s what you need to know

Written by Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

A psychotherapist explains what we must do to help put a stop to all of our Covid-induced anxiety around death.

My day began much like any other: I woke up, blearily groped for my phone, and took a quick scroll through my social media feeds. I put my phone down. Then, as something clicked in my brain, I picked it up again and went back through my feeds again.

I hadn’t imagined it – although, Christ, I really wish I had. Because there, in big bold letters, The Surrey Comet informed me that a temporary morgue had been set up about, ooh, 20 minutes from my house “to store Covid dead.”

Just as I’ve made a point of doing with the ever-rising coronavirus death toll, I decided the best course of action was to… well, was just to pretend nothing was wrong. To draw a veil over this unsettling news bulletin, push it to the very darkest recesses of my mind, and go about my day as normal. So I kicked off the duvet, hopped in the shower, swallowed the sudden lump in my throat, and sang along reedily to my favourite bathroom ballads (Celine Dion, eat your heart out). 

This done, I headed downstairs and brewed myself a cup of peppermint tea, ignoring the low hum of anxiety running through me. I logged into my morning meeting over Zoom and pasted a smile over my (slightly paler than normal) face. I cracked jokes, I laughed along as people shared their anecdotes, I made notes, I hit mute whenever I needed to take a few deep, steadying breaths. I shut down the call, I cried a little, I started working on a TV roundup.

Then, when I filed my copy, I cried again. It felt as if I could barely breathe and, when I finally got myself under control and back to work, I found I was still shivering, that my heart was still pounding inside my chest, and that I was still shaking like mad.

Thus went my day. And, when my head hit the pillow later the same night, I found myself plagued by fears of this seemingly never-ending global plague, and of death. Not the skeleton with the scythe, and not my own mortality, but of… well, just of death, full stop.

Because, to paraphrase Wet Wet Wet’s 1994 song, death is seemingly all around us, and so my anxiety grows.

“It sounds like death anxiety,” Stylist’s Lucy Robson tells me, when I mention my experience to her. 

And so, with these words burning in my mind, I reach out to psychotherapist Ruairi Stewart (aka The Happy Whole Coach).

“It’s very normal to feel anxious around death,” Stewart reassures me. “And, as Winston Churchill famously said, ‘Any man who says he is not afraid of death is a liar’.”

He adds: “It has been speculated that death anxiety or thanatophobia as it is medically known, is considered one of the most common human fears. 

“It could be described as a free-floating anxiety that is often ignored and repressed which then leads to it surfacing in other ways.”

But why is my initial reaction to brush all of my feelings around death under the carpet, I wonder? Well, because, as Stewart explains, our day-to-day existences typically don’t tend to remind us of our own mortality.

“In the western world we usually only face the reality of death when in the process of losing a loved one,” he says.

“A lot of people find the thought of death uncomfortable, but having the occasional thought or fear around this is totally normal. When it starts to have a negative impact on your ability to manage your day to day life, however, then it is a problem.

“How grief and loss are handled in the face of a loved one passing away is also a large part of how people tend to frame and experience their own understanding of death. Death can serve as a very painful reminder for people, depending on the nature of the losses they may have endured – how the person died, how this grief was processed and handled, or even the amount of loss a person has experienced and over what amount of time.

“This is something I’m sure a lot of people are struggling with at the moment due to the death tolls around the pandemic constantly updated in the media: it’s a stark reminder of our own mortality.”

Stewart adds reassuringly: “On an intellectual level, we know that life ends for us all at some point. This is still an uncomfortable truth to sit with, however, and the thought of our own mortality is something we tend to push down and deny for the most part.

“It is too overwhelming to be at the forefront of your mind all the time so it ends up dwelling in the subconscious and can subliminally influence behaviours and coping mechanisms when it comes to thinking about death.”

So what can we do to help put a stop to all of our Covid-induced anxiety? Well, Stewart says we need to take the time necessary to get comfortable with the concept of death.

“We all think about our five year plans from time to time, but how often do you sit with the realisation that you are going to die, how often do you reflect on how you’ve been living your life and what would you change if you knew you only had a little time left?” he asks.

“These are intense thoughts but also powerful tools to shift your perspective on things.”

Stewart continues: “There is so much global grief and trauma that we are collectively experiencing right now. People are losing loved ones in the most traumatic ways, the death tolls are constantly in the news and we have a sense of feeling trapped in our homes with the knowledge of it all.

“We need to shift our perspective to take responsibility for how we are currently living our lives,” he adds. “Ask yourself if you’re unhappy, or if anything needs to change, and use these thoughts to help give you clarity.

“They will serve as a reminder that this is your responsibility and something you can control. Choosing to bravely face trauma and work through dark times will help to heal.”

Angharad Burden, Marie Curie’s information and support bereavement service coordinator, agrees wholeheartedly with Stewart, saying that it’s vital we all take the time to confront our fears around death.

More important than even this, though? We must pluck up the courage to talk to loved ones about it, too.

“Our own mortality can be one of the hardest things to accept but taking the time to have important conversations can make a big difference,” Burden says.

“Many people we support wish they’d been able to have these conversations to better understand their loved ones’ wishes before they died. I like to think about it as an act of kindness and love. At a time when the people that are important to you may be experiencing a range of powerful emotions and grief, you will have already acknowledged and shared your final wishes.”

Burden continues: “It can be difficult to know where to start and this doesn’t have to happen in a formal setting. You can talk over dinner, a walk in the park or during a car journey. The more you talk the more natural and comfortable it can become.

“Start by reflecting on a memory, maybe a photograph or piece of music that means a lot to you – it can help start the conversation. Marie Curie has a set of conversation cards you can order that will help you and your loved ones start talking and remove any pressure about knowing where to start. 

“Questions include: ‘What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?’ and ‘Name the three songs you’d like at your funeral’. This gives you the opportunity to understand the people you care about better, perhaps agree or disagree with questionable music choices, but ultimately save unnecessary stress and confusion later.”

Burden adds: “We are all unique and talking about death can be daunting, so try not to force it. There are books, pieces of music, documentaries and films that all introduce the topic of dying and death in a way that may be more accessible to you. You may also wish to express your own feelings creatively. I often hear of people writing songs, creating drawings or painting their thoughts and feelings, which can be both cathartic for you and informative for your loved ones.”

“It’s easy to not talk about your own mortality but it could be incredibly difficult on those you leave behind if you don’t. Marie Curie can help you think, talk and plan for the end of life. It’s never too soon, until it’s too late.”

Marie Curie can help you and your family or friends open up the conversation, share your thoughts and feelings, discuss your wishes and make plans earlier in life, for what you and your loved ones want for the end of life experience. Visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/talkabout to find ideas and tools to help you get started or call the Marie Curie Support Line free on 0800 090 2309.

Marie Curie Talkabout Conversation Cards are available to order on the Marie Curie online shop.

Images: Getty

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The Creative Activities That Could Ease Your Anxiety

It’s no secret that an anxious mind needs a place to focus. So, instead of having it focused on what’s out of your control, using your creativity can offer a healthy outlet for ruminating thoughts. Per Insider, a Journal of Positive Psychology study found that daily creative activities could foster an increased sense of well-being. The reason behind this phenomenon comes as a result of getting out of your head and back into your body. Your project is taking place in the moment, not in the future. As such, your mind will slowly follow your hands’ lead.

For instance, baking has long been a pastime of the anxious-minded. As Instagram becomes riddled with delicious-looking posts captioned with the term, “stress baking,” it appears that these social media accounts are on to something. Measuring out the ingredients and mixing them together provides a tactile experience that requires full presence. The Atlantic attributes the activity’s relaxation effects to the “calming” sense of creating, but Professor Philip Muskin, who’s also the secretary of the American Psychiatry Association, feels that the mindfulness properties are the impetus for its anti-anxiety benefits. “Baking is mindful,” he tells the outlet. “Mindfulness means paying attention to yourself in the moment and not being in the past or the future, but really being there.”

If baking isn’t your thing, try adding a longer, more comprehensive process to daily routines like making your coffee. Insider suggests trying a slow-steep method for your brew by using a French press or pour-over apparatus for a relaxing twist. 

Work on your handwriting to help ease your anxiety

Even if you don’t consider yourself quite an artist, getting your creative juices flowing can bring on a sense of exhilaration. The Daily Mail reports that 76 percent of survey respondents to a University College London study called calligraphy a “distraction tool” that helped alleviate symptoms of nervousness. Using various pens, strokes, and colors can take up more of your headspace than you think, and nailing the perfect fancy “U” never felt so calming. Plus, you can put your new skill to the test and write out any holiday cards or invitations you need!

In a similar vein, tapping into your childlike state through activities such as coloring are known to bring about feelings of tranquility. Insider reports that a Creativity Research Journal study found that subjects who colored daily exhibited “significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms and anxiety after the intervention” than those who didn’t color. There are tons of coloring books available that are created for adults — so, find your coloring utensil of choice and get down to having fun! Bonus points if you find a mindfulness-based book.

When it comes to slowing your racing thoughts, give your new hobby time. It may take a few minutes or tries to feel the full effects. Everyone is different, so have fun finding a hands-on outlet and see how it impacts your mental health.

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COVID-19 anxiety linked to body image issues

A new study has found that anxiety and stress directly linked to COVID-19 could be causing a number of body image issues amongst women and men.

The research, led by Professor Viren Swami of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, involved 506 UK adults with an average age of 34.

Amongst women, the study found that feelings of anxiety and stress caused by COVID-19 were associated with a greater desire for thinness. It also found that anxiety was significantly associated with body dissatisfaction.

Amongst the male participants, the study found that COVID-19-related anxiety and stress was associated with greater desire for muscularity, with anxiety also associated with body fat dissatisfaction.

Negative body image is one of the main causes of eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, and this new study adds to recent research indicating that fears around COVID-19, and the consequences of the restrictions introduced to help tackle it, could be contributing to a number of serious mental health issues.

Lead author Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: “In addition to the impact of the virus itself, our results suggest the pandemic could also be leading to a rise in body image issues. In some cases, these issues can have very serious repercussions, including triggering eating disorders.

“Certainly during the initial spring lockdown period, our screen time increased, meaning that we were more likely to be exposed to thin or athletic ideals through the media, while decreased physical activity may have heightened negative thoughts about weight or shape. At the same time, it is possible that the additional anxiety and stress caused by COVID-19 may have diminished the coping mechanisms we typically use to help manage negative thoughts

“Our study also found that when stressed or anxious, our pre-occupations tend to follow gender-typical lines. During lockdown, women may have felt under greater pressure to conform to traditionally feminine roles and norms, and messaging about self-improvement may have led to women feeling dissatisfied with their bodies and having a greater desire for thinness.

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Fearne Cotton shares her top mental health podcasts and Instagram accounts

To help mark World Mental Health Day, Fearne Cotton has shared her favourite Instagram accounts to follow and podcast series to listen to.

It’s World Mental Health Day, which means that we’re all part of the global conversation around mental health issues. 

One of the biggest things we can do in breaking the stigma around mental health and encouraging people to seek support is to simply talk and listen.

That’s why Happy Place podcaster and mental health advocate, Fearne Cotton, has shared her recommendations for the best podcasts and Instagram accounts to follow. 

Sharing a post on Instagram, Cotton wrote: “Today is World Mental Health day and although I think about, am curious about and talk about mental health on most days, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to ignite the conversation further.

“Whether you’ve previously been in the depths of depression/anxiety/OCD or any other mental health issue, have helped someone else through a tough time, or are currently lost in heaviness and confusion, it’s another chance to look at how we can talk more, reach out further, lose shame and guilt, strip ourselves of our heavy stories that hold us back, connect with others more and feel proud about where we are today.”

She then shared the following recommendations:

  • “The podcast On Being created by Krista Tippett.
  • @gabapodcast a trippy meditation with ASMR and good music. 
  • a New Earth with @oprah and @eckharttolle GAME changing
  • My mate @poornabell.
  • The incredible artist @charliemackesy.
  • My friend, activist, spoken word artist @wandacanton
  • @mindcharity I am a proud patron.
  • The incredibly clever and lovely @donnalancs.
  • Writer, friend and all-round amazing lady @nicola_b_vivian.”

Of course, there are plenty of ways to widen and stay engaged with the conversations around mental health. 

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health, you can find support and resources on mental health charity Mind’s website or see the NHS’s list of mental health helplines and organisations here.

For confidential support, you can also call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or email [email protected]

Images: Sarah Brick

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Mum thought daughter’s stomach ache was anxiety but finds it's due to cancer

A mum who thought her shy daughter’s stomach ache was caused by back-to-school anxiety during the holidays was horrified to discover the little girl had a cancerous tumour in her abdomen.

Siân Rodney began to fear eight-year-old Olivia might have appendicitis when her symptoms worsened over Christmas and they

But when the family, from Bedford, went to hospital, doctors discovered a watermelon-sized tumour in Olivia’s abdomen.

Tests revealed the mass was Burkitt lymphoma – a rare and fast-growing cancer of the lymphatic system.

Health and safety worker Sian, 39, said: ‘Nobody ever dreams they will have to deal with childhood cancer.

‘When it’s suddenly in front of you, you feel like a rabbit caught in headlights with no idea what to do.

‘But, through all of this, Olivia has shown us what a strong little superstar she is.’

Fortunately, following eight rounds of aggressive chemotherapy – all administered during lockdown – Olivia is now cancer-free.

Olivia started telling her mum that she was tired during their regular 20-minute walks into town at the end of the summer in 2019.

Then, in early October, she kept saying that her tummy hurt.

As Olivia was eating normally and did not show signs of a bug, such as vomiting, Siân began to wonder whether her daughter was just feeling anxious about going to school.

But by January 2020, Olivia’s symptoms had worsened, so Siân took her to see the GP, who referred her to Bedford Hospital.

A scan revealed a mass around her abdomen, which doctors initially believed to be an abscess that had formed around her appendix.

Next, she was given intravenous antibiotics in a bid to banish any infection and Olivia seemed to be responding well.

But, after five days, her temperature suddenly spiked overnight, and doctors raced her to theatre for emergency surgery.

Siân said: ‘They planned to remove her appendix, thinking it had burst.

‘As my husband Chris and I waited for her to come back from theatre, another mum said to us, “Don’t worry, my little one just had their appendix out and they were back within 90 minutes. It won’t be long”.

‘But 90 minutes came and went, then two hours, then two and a half. I began to really worry, and said to Chris, “This hasn’t been a straightforward appendix removal, has it?”

‘After three hours, a consultant appeared, ashen-faced. I took one look at him and just started crying, “Where’s my baby?”.’

Medics explained that the mass that was originally thought to be an abscess appeared to be something much more sinister.

As it contained blood vessels that were too close to major organs to be safely removed, they could only take a small sample, which they sent away to be biopsied, along with some of her lymph nodes.

Siân continued: ‘From the moment they said the word mass, my mind was whirring.

‘By then, I knew we were dealing with something very serious.’

The next day, they were referred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, where an oncologist officially diagnosed Olivia with Burkitt lymphoma.

Her parents were honest with Olivia about the diagnosis.

‘We didn’t want to hide anything from her,’ said Siân. ‘That was really important to us. We also tried to keep things as positive as we could.

‘Of course, she had her down days, where she’d say to me, “I just want to go to school and see my friends, mum”.’

Within days of the diagnosis, Siân and her family were put in touch with CLIC Sargent – a cancer charity supporting young people and their families – who assigned Olivia a social worker.

Siân added: ‘CLIC Sargent was incredible. They helped us with everything you could possibly imagine, both practically and emotionally.

‘They were always at the other end of the phone if we had a question. They even gave us a grant of £170 when she was first diagnosed.’

As Olivia continued with chemotherapy, which she coped with remarkably well, and Siân found strength and solace through talking to other families in the ward.

Watching other families ring the bell at the end of their cancer treatments was emotional for Siân and her family to witness.

By April, after five rounds of chemotherapy, Olivia had a progress scan, which revealed that much of the original tumour had gone.

Ordinarily, surgeons explained, the tumour would be removed using keyhole surgery, but with operations on hold due to the pandemic, they decided to opt for three more rounds of chemotherapy instead.

Siân thinks the pandemic and lockdown has been good in a way as it has kept Olivia, who has a weak immune system, from picking up germs from people.

Thankfully, tests at the end of June found Olivia to be cancer-free – and she has remained healthy ever since.

Now back at school, she is having regular meetings to monitor her progress, but doctors are confident that she has beaten the disease.

Siân, who is keen to offer hope to other parents having a similar experience and to promote the work of CLIC Sargent, said: ‘Staff from the charity have been absolutely invaluable to our family.

‘Now I want to make sure other parents know about CLIC Sargent, too.’

If you’d like to support the charity, you can donate through their website.

Do you have a story you want to share?

Email [email protected] to tell us more.

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Depression and anxiety twice as common among older people who were shielding

Older people who were instructed to shield and self-isolate at the beginning of the pandemic experienced higher levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness compared with those who were not shielding, according to a new study co-led by UCL.

The research shows that the increase in poor mental health was not related to reductions in social contacts, but due to higher levels of worry about obtaining food and other essentials, and less physical activity and sleep.

The findings are published today in a series of working papers using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19.

The ELSA COVID-19 substudy gathered data from 5,800 older women and men in June and July 2020 with a mean age of 70 to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on mental health, quality of life, social connectedness, worries, and health-related behaviour.

Other key findings include:

  • Only 60% of older people instructed to shield were strictly isolating in April and May, staying at home and trying to limit face-to-face contact.
  • Severe depression and anxiety symptoms were twice as common among high risk older individuals who were socially isolating compared with average risk participants (32% vs 17%).
  • Loneliness was much more common in the shielded group who were strictly isolating compared with average risk participants, even when factors such as age, sex, number of people in the household, and whether or not the person had a partner were taken into account (33% vs 21%).
  • Participants in the high risk group were more likely to have been hospitalised with COVID-19 (15% vs 3%) and to be worried about obtaining food and other essentials (12% vs 6%).
  • People who were in the shielded group were more likely to be less physically active than usual and to spend more time sitting compared with others (47% vs 33%).

Professor Andrew Steptoe (UCL Behavioural Science & Health and ELSA lead) said: “The advice to people at risk of COVID-19 may have saved lives and reduced infection, but it has come at a cost. With an increase in COVID-19 cases across the UK, efforts should be made to allay concerns and encourage health promoting behaviour to avoid further impairment of quality of life and mental health.”

Other findings from the ELSA COVID-19 substudy have looked at the effect of the pandemic on older people with multiple long-term health conditions (multimorbidity).

Key findings from the report show:

  • 35% of older people with multimorbidity were instructed by the NHS or GP to shield.
  • 94% of people with multimorbidity reported either isolating or staying at home in April 2020, whether they were asked to shield or not.
  • 20% of people with multimorbidity did not have access to community health and social care services and support needed (such as dentist, podiatrist, nurse, counselling or personal care).

Dr. Paola Zaninotto (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) and author of the ELSA COVID-19 report on multimorbidity said: “When considering policies which advise people to shield or self-isolate because of their COVID-19 risk, it is important for policymakers to acknowledge that older people with multiple long-term health conditions are at higher risk of experiencing greater mental distress and worry, of engaging in unhealthy behaviors and are less likely to access health services when needed; all these factors together could potentially influence disease progression.

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Smartphones can predict brain function associated with anxiety and depression

Information on social activity, screen time and location from smartphones can predict connectivity between regions of the brain that are responsible for emotion, according to a study from Dartmouth College.

In the research, data from phone usage was analyzed alongside results from fMRI scans to confirm that passively collected information can mirror activity in the brain linked to traits such as anxiety. Predictions based solely on the phone data matched the brain scans with 80 percent accuracy.

The study, presented at ACM UbiComp, an annual conference on pervasive and ubiquitous computing, represents the first time researchers have been able to predict connectivity between specific brain regions solely based on passive data from smartphones.

“Simple information about how someone is using their smartphone can provide a peek into the complex functioning of the human brain,” said Mikio Obuchi, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at Dartmouth and lead author of the study. “Although this research is just beginning, combining data from smartphones—rather than fMRI alone—will hopefully accelerate research to understand better how the human brain works.”

According to the research, how often and how long an individual uses their phone provides information about the functioning between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala—two key centers of the brain related to emotional state.

The ventromedial prefrontal cortex is responsible for self-control, decision making, and risk evaluation. The amygdala triggers the fight or flight response and helps individuals determine the emotions of others.

In addition to data on social activity, screen time and location, information on exercise and sleep patterns was also collected for the study.

The research found that more screen time, regular exercise, earlier bedtimes, higher social interaction and certain location patterns passively inferred from phone data matched a state of higher functional connectivity between the brain regions. This increased activity indicates a more positive emotional state.

“We are not suggesting that phones should replace technology like fMRI, but they can help individuals and health providers learn more about behavior patterns from everyday observations,” said Jeremy Huckins, a lecturer on psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth and a co-author of the study.

The research result aligns with clinical evidence showing that stronger connectivity between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala to be associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression. Weaker functional connectivity, on the other hand, represents a more negative emotional state.

Anonymous fMRI data from volunteer participants were placed into two categories divided by low and high brain connectivity levels. By matching phone data against the fMRI results the researchers were able to predict which research subjects had higher or lower connectivity between brain regions with 80 percent accuracy.

According to the research team, the use of passive information from a smartphone can help eliminate the subjectivity that often complicates other information-gathering techniques on emotional well-being such as personal interviews and self-reporting on questionnaires.

The phone information allowed researchers to predict the emotional state of individuals at any given time without intrusive data collection. The data also support predictions of the long-term emotional traits in individuals.

“Hopefully, this study shows how mobile sensing can provide deep longitudinal human behavioral data to complement brain scans,” said Andrew Campbell, the Albert Bradley 1915 Third Century Professor of computer science at Dartmouth and the senior researcher on the study. “This could offer new insights into the emotional well-being of subjects that would just not be possible without continuous sensing.”

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Quarantine fatigue: Everything you need to know about it

Do you feel tired of the quietness around, and also experience unrest, depression, anxiety, loneliness, or even irritability?




Have you been feeling exhausted despite being at home? Do you feel tired of the quietness around, and also experience unrest, depression, anxiety, loneliness, or even irritability? If yes, you could now be having ‘quarantine fatigue’, said Dr Ravi Gaur, chief operating officer, lab director, Oncquest Labs Ltd.

Quarantine fatigue is caused because of isolation, lack of routine, disconnect, loss of freedom to go about everyday life, depleted energies in spite of more than normal rest, and having a same routine every day. This phenomenon is the result of all the emotional stress brought about by the current circumstances we are in, the expert added.

Today, in Covid 19 times, this stress varies from person to person, but there are some common factors, like the inability to engage in meaningful and pleasurable activities (sports, walks, drives, movies, family get together etc.). The endlessness of the situation has taken a definite toll and is getting compounded over fast.

Quarantine fatigue is manifesting both emotionally and physically. The symptoms include:

* Mild to severe physical fatigue
*Irritability
*Disturbed sleep/oversleeping
*Anxiety
*Apathy, lethargy, lack of motivation
*Emotional liability/unstable emotions
*Feelings of intense loneliness and disconnection
*Feeling hopeless

How to deal with quarantine fatigue

It is tough to say when and if, things will feel “normal”. You might not feel 100-per cent better until you are out in the real world again but overcoming such a strong obstacle requires inner strength. It’s time to start working on it, said Dr Gaur.

ALSO READ | Try this deep breathing technique to relieve stress

Count on these tips

*Talk about how you feel and share it with others.
*Take breaks from your phone and all types of media.
*Create a routine.
*Try a home makeover, gardening, cleaning etc.
*Plan on how and where to spend your energy
*Try breathwork, yoga and meditation.
*Rediscover self and find a purpose.
*Do not lose hope

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Mumbai, Delhi among top cities seeking online consultations for mental health, report finds

The report stated that the queries mainly revolved around issues of stress, isolation, claustrophobia, being unproductive, anger, irritation, loneliness, mood swings, to name a few.




Amid the ongoing pandemic, many people have struggled with mental health issues. Across the world, it has been reported widely that there has been a mental health crisis in a span of a few months, what with people having to stay locked up in their homes, anxious about the ongoing health crisis.

Now, a recent study has revealed that Indians, in particular, are grappling with multiple forms of mental health issues that have risen exponentially post the coronavirus outbreak. Conducted by Lybrate — which is one of India’s largest health and wellness platforms — the study states that there has been over 180 per cent rise in online patient consultations around mental health conditions on the platform. Lybrate has witnessed over 225 per cent jump in online consultations by females and 150 per cent by males.

The highest jump has been witnessed in the city of Mumbai (205 per cent), followed by Delhi (180 per cent), Pune (170 per cent), Ahmedabad (155 per cent), Chennai (142 per cent), Bangalore (115 per cent), Kolkata (109 per cent) and Hyderabad (102 per cent). The platform said that it came up with the insights post analysis of data gathered between March 1 and June 20, 2020.

ALSO READ | Watch: Deepika Padukone shares heartwarming film on mental health

Other cities which have found a place in the list include Indore (141 per cent), Lucknow (135 per cent), Kochi (127 per cent), Patna (122 per cent), Bhopal (104 per cent), Bhubaneshwar (98 per cent) and Chandigarh (97 per cent). In terms of age, the jump has been highest in the 25-45 age group. People in the 45-60 age bracket were next to have asked the majority of queries on the platform.

“Mental health became a point of concern for a majority of Indians after COVID-19. We noticed on our platform that even specialists who did not deal with the subject were being consulted about mental health issues. Given the demanding situation, we provided a basic session to doctors; psychologists on our platform trained them on how to better counsel those seeking help regarding mental health problems. As the questions asked were mostly generic in nature, we thought it would come handy for those doctors who want to help out during the crisis,” Saurabh Arora, Founder & CEO of Lybrate said.

The report stated that the queries mainly revolved around stress, isolation, claustrophobia, being unproductive, anger, irritation, loneliness, mood swings, not being able to cope with family members around, rifts between spouses, coping mechanisms, uncertainty and helplessness, along with a substantial rise in queries from working people about job losses and related stress, fear and worry on resuming offices at a time when COVID-19 cases are rising in the country, among others.

ALSO READ | 500% rise in healthcare teleconsultation in India, 80% are first-time users: Report

The World Health Organisation, meanwhile, has called upon countries in the South-East Asia Region to pay greater attention to mental health and suicide prevention.

“Hitting lives and livelihoods, the pandemic is causing fear, anxiety, depression and stress among people. Social distancing, isolation and coping with perpetually-evolving and changing information about the virus has both triggered and aggravated existing and pre-existing mental health conditions which need urgent attention,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region has said, adding that early identification of mental health conditions, recognition of suicidal behaviours and appropriate management through a multi-sectoral approach is important.

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