Feeling anxious? It’s normal during abnormal situation, says psychiatrist

 If you feel anxious these days or worry about what is going to happen tomorrow, a psychiatrist from the National Center for Mental Health said that it is normal to feel that way amid the pandemic.

“It’s normal that we feel the uncertainty, we feel anxious kung ano mangyayari tomorrow (about what will happen tomorrow). Siyempre (Of course) there is fear for our own lives and we grieve for the losses,” said Dr. Agnes Casiño in an interview with CNN Philippines.

“We are human beings, so we are social beings. Ayun yung nawala sa atin ngayon (That’s what we lost) and losing control,” she said. “That feeling could be actually under an abnormal situation.”

The United Nations and the World Health Organization said that there is a “high prevalence” of mental distress in different parts of the world due to the pandemic, especially among health care workers and children.

Casiño said there are different groups of people in this pandemic: the ones who are resilient with the situation; those who are already diagnosed with psychiatric illness, even before the pandemic; those who already have a mild depression, but the crisis could trigger a psychiatric illness in them; and those who have stocked resilience and coping skills, but they are already starting to have an illness due to the situation.

She noted that the last two groups of people should be kept an eye on.

When to seek professional help?

Casiño pointed out that there are several factors when someone feels down, having a difficulty in sleeping, or lack of appetite. For instance, difficulty sleeping could be caused by exposure to social media before going to bed or irregularity in sleeping pattern.

She said that if other aspects of our lives are being affected, it is the right time to call for help.

“To the point na if all areas in your life, including the functioning, kung natulala na siya with depression (if he is dazed with depression), it must be actually two weeks na makikita mo na may symptoms na ganun (it must be actually two weeks to see symptoms like that)…So that one maybe you need professional support,” said Casiño.

As part of the new normal, psychiatrists are still offering their services through the use of technology.

“Right now, the same thing with everything, we are also working on tele-consultation. It may not be the same as face-to-face consultation, but it’s the next best thing for now,” she said. “As for prescription, yung (the) FDA is allowing e-prescription. Even us psychiatrists we can provide e-prescriptions.”

How to cope with the pandemic?

In these trying times, Casiño encouraged everyone to catch up with their friends and loved ones.

“Siguro, ito na medyo aware na tayo on what’s happening, it’s good that we call up people, we ask them kung kumusta sila,” she said.

[Translation: I think now that we are aware of what is happening, it’s good that we call up people, we ask them how they are.]

She also advised to get updated with the latest news, but avoid news that is becoming distracting.

“So for everyone, we keep ourselves updated, kung ano yung mga government advisories and mga protocols. Kung nakaka-distract sayo and you are affected by the news na hindi maganda, you avoid those ones.”

[Translation: So for everyone, we keep ourselves updates on what are the latest government advisory and protocols. But if you are distracted and affected by the negative ones, you avoid them.]

Casiño said that everyone should still follow their normal routines before the pandemic.

“You keep your regular routine, kung work from home ka na ngayon but you still have to get up at 7, you still follow that one para yung body clock natin hindi magulo,” she said.

[Translation: You keep your regular routine, if you are already working at home but you still need to get up at 7am, you still follow that routine so your body clock will not mess up.]

“For me, resilience is not how long you endure an adversity, but how you rise up from adversity.”

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