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COVID-warriors: Psychological impact of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 pandemic on health-care professionals

1 Department of Medicine, INHS Kalyani, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Command Hospital (EC), Kolkata, West Bengal, India
3 Department of Psychiatry, Command Hospital (CC), Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Manisha Jindal,
Department of Psychiatry, Command Hospital (EC), 17/1E, Alipore, Kolkata - 700 027, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmms.jmms_44_20

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS CoV-2) has the potential to affect the mental health of health-care professionals in several adverse ways, owing to a multifactorial, unprecedented volley of evolving factors. It may contribute to the elevated levels of depression, anxiety, and worry among the personnel on the frontline, who are often affected by medical and psychosocial factors, including pre-existing illness, scarcity of resources, uncertainty of outcome, prolonged working hours, lack of consensus, prevalent societal misbeliefs, prevailing stigma, and a constant threat to safety. Aim: The aim of this study was to screen health-care professionals for symptoms of depression, anxiety, and worry during SARS CoV-2 pandemic. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, a questionnaire was designed based on Patient Health Questionnaire-9, generalized anxiety disorder-7. It was disseminated through web-based and mobile-based social networks, thereby keeping in line with the social distancing and lockdown protocols. Results: Two hundred and fifty-seven participants were included in the study. Anxiety and depression were present in 23% (n = 59) and 16.8% (n = 43) of participants, respectively, most cases being mild in intensity. Nearly 56.4% (n = 145) of the participants reported that they were worried about COVID 19 pandemic, major cause of worry being risk of family and friends to be infected by COVID 19. About 40.9% (n = 105) participants reported sleep disturbances. Nearly 33.5% (n = 86) of participants reported increase in their smoking/alcohol consumption during lockdown. Conclusions: A significant proportion of health-care professionals experienced worry, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Having clear guidelines, policies and procedures, training on infection control measures, occasional drills and being able to maintain communication with family members while in quarantine can go a long way in reducing worry and psychological impact of pandemic on health-care professionals.

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