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COVID-19: Clinical psychologist says holistic approach needed in prevention, treatment

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Dr Adedotun Ajiboye, A Clinical Psychologist, has said a holistic approach must be taken in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Ajiboye, of the Mental Health Department, Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) on Saturday.

He said the holistic approach should include physical, social and mental health components.

The psychologist said the mental health component in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 was necessary because there is a relationship between COVID-19 and some psychological problems.

“An individual effected with Coronavirus may experience debilitating disease which may finally lead to death.

“Due to its morbidity and mortality rate, a lot of psychosocial, behavioural, and mental health issues may ensue. ”

He said one of the mental health effects of COVID-19 could be Obsessive Complusive Disorder (OCD).

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“One of the best way we can prevent Coronavirus is through repetitive hand washing. This behaviour may degenerate to a psychological disorder known as OCD.

“Obsessions could be excessive thoughts leading to repetitive behaviours (compulsions). OCD is characterised by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to compulsive behaviours.

“Even after Coronavirus pandemic has gone, some people nursing unreasonable fear about this virus may continue in repetitive hand washing that looks abnormal.”

Ajiboye said another mental effective of COVID-19 was that it could lead to alcohol addiction.

He said that ethanol had been recognised as one of the major ingredients to prepare sanitisers that could combat the virus.

” As a result of this, some people have now indulged in taking alcohol such as spirit or ogogoro to combat this virus.

“But alcohol has been recognised as a psychoactive substance capable of hijacking the brain, thereby leading to addiction. Psychoactive substances alter one’s mood, thoughts, sensory perceptions, and behavior .” he told NAN.

The psychologist further said COVID- 19 could lead to social stigma and suicide.

He explained that an individual experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus may not present in a health facility or discuss with close associates because of social stigma displayed towards people with symptoms.

Ajiboye said social stigma could generate into psychological disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression, and even suicidal ideation.

“When depression sets in as a result of social stigma attached to COVID- 19, an individual may feel worthless, unacceptable, and may not see reason to exist or live again.

“He or she may begin to have suicidal intentions. ” he said.

He also said COVID- 19 could lead to negative emotions and poor immunity.

According to him, it has been proven that negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, sadness, confusion, have a tendency of lowering the immunity of an individual.

“So an individual who is not effected with the virus but is occupied with fear, anxiety and confusion as a result of COVID-19 , may have very poor resistance to the virus.

” But when actually effected, it may in turn, lead to sudden death.”

Ajiboye said COVID- 19 could lead to insomnia, due to anxiety, confusion or fear of being effected with the virus which leads to inability to sleep.

“With the above explanation, we can establish that there is a relationship between COVID-19 and some psychological problems.

“So, in preventing or treating COVID-19, a holistic case management including physical, social and mental health components are needed.

” They are needed to ensure comprehensive and evidence-based preventive and treatment strategies.”he said. (NAN)

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