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‘Coronavirus overdose’ on TV, social media wreaking havoc on mental and physical health of people

He was instantly rushed to Patna’s Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) where the doctors said he had suffered a brain haemorrhage.

Manoj Chaurasia | Patna |

70-year-old Bhola Nath Tiwari from Bihar’s Buxur district always remained busy flipping through WhatsApp and Facebook messages on his smartphone about coronavirus. If his cell phone was not around, he remained glued to the TV set to keep himself updated with all the developments about this pandemic. Two days ago, he suddenly fell unconscious after watching TV. He was instantly rushed to Patna’s Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) where the doctors said he had suffered a brain haemorrhage.

Now, he is under the observation of doctors. According to his family members, recently he started looking very anxious about the increasing death toll from this disease in the world and would always discuss how the world is heading for a disaster.

The case of Md Usman, 60, from Gaya is no different. Right since the government enforced nation-wide lockdown, Usman remained busy either watching TV or reading WhatsApp messages on his phone, according to his family members. His only subject of interest was Coronavirus. Three days back, he fell down while sitting on the chair and fainted. Currently, he is under the observation of doctors at the same IGIMS.

The case of a teenage girl, who too is admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of the IGIMS, is even more startling. If her family members are to be believed, the 18-year-old Champaran girl developed a morbid fear or phobia after constantly watching news about the coronavirus on her mobile phone and TV at home after the lockdown. She often trembled out of unseen fear of coronavirus after which she was admitted to the Patna hospital.

These are only a few examples of how an overdose of corona information is now making people sick and ultimately leaving them on the hospital beds. Quite many people are suffering from high blood pressure, brain haemorrhage, heart diseases, anxiety, depression and panic attacks.

The ICU of the IGIMS is currently crowded with such patients with 18 out of the total 24 beds full right now. One of the main reasons behind it is said to be the fake messages that are circulating on social media and the ‘panic’ created by the 24×7 TV news channels.

“We are alarmed at the sudden increase in the number of brain haemorrhage cases at this time. Normally such cases appear during the winter season. We have been told that a majority of such patients fell sick after going through the messages on WhatsApp or constantly watching TV to know more about Corona spread,” IGIMS superintendent Manish Mandal said. He advised the people to bring change in their daily routine, do yoga exercises, keep busy in constructive activities and not to harbour any tension.

Another prominent health expert and neurologist at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) Dr Gunjan Kumar blames the unnecessary tension caused by corona overdose behind this situation. “The main reason behind the brain haemorrhage is high blood pressure (BP) and one of the factors behind high BP is tension. We advise the people not panic by corona,” Dr Kumar said.

Doctors say with all movements restricted and the people confined to their homes due to the lockdown, a majority of them have ignored their daily routine. Before the lockdown, the elders would walk on the streets, take morning strolls in the nearby parks, buy vegetables from the roadside vendors or routinely interact with acquaintances while the teenagers and the youngsters would either go to schools/college/coaching institutes or were engrossed in studies.

Post lockdown, all these daily routines have been severely disturbed. With classes suspended for a long time and no homework pressures anymore, the youngsters are either watching TV or surfing mobile phones. Similar is the case with the people in other age-groups. This is proving disastrous for the people as they refuse to bring changes in their daily routine and habits.

What is even more disturbing is that the corona fear is also making people mentally sick, leaving them down with anxiety, depression and panic attacks. The number of such patients has increased by some 25 percent in recent weeks, according to doctors.

Many of the people are experiencing mental disorders out of the fear that the world will come to an end due to corona or thinking about absurd issues, such as the world will come to an end due to Corona or why India is supplying medicines to the US at this time or there is no vaccine for Covid-19.

“People have been falling victim to psychiatric disorders due to constantly watching corona-related stories all the time at homes either on their mobile sets or TV. The situation has reached to such a stage that they are now anxious about India exporting medicines to US. They are anxious if the disease will ever be contained? How far the scientists have succeeded in making its vaccines? Such queries have been robbing the sleep of the masses,” said prominent psychiatrist Dr Vinay Kumar.

Another psychiatrist, posted with a government mental institute, Dr Jayesh Ranjan said the people have become too much afflicted with ‘corona horror’ due to the constant run of such stories on the TV and advised them to stay away from TV and social media for some time to keep themselves agile and active.

“But the problem is that most of the people are just not ready to believe positive stories. They are quite worried about the rising death toll in the world. They must remove this fear and realise that no one can defeat human beings…Manav aise hi yehan tak nahin pahucha hai (men have not come to this stage all of sudden but due to certain qualities),” Dr Ranjan said.