The implications of dealing with a shift in daily life, loss of income and the death of close family during the COVID-19 pandemic have increased anxiety and depression among South Africans.
This is according to the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).
The council has conducted a number of major population representation surveys to determine the social and psychological impact of the pandemic on the country.
HSRC’s Dr Priscilla Reddy says the ongoing situation could have far-reaching consequences.
“From July to December, the number of South Africans screening positive for depression increased from 24% to 29%. November to December, 2 in 3 South Africans reported experiencing hunger every day [and] had depressive symptoms. These are serious mental health issues.”
“Healthcare workers, especially nurses reported high levels of psychological distress. We see over the past 3 months, the total number of COVID-19 deaths doubled from 20 000 to 49 000. We had more mourning with the loss of loved ones. This is highly challenging as people feel less in-person support by mourning in isolation. The liability of not being able to perform funeral rights has added another layer of grief which is prolonged,” explains Dr Reddy.
In the video below Psychiatrist Kobus Roux talks about panic attacks: