COVID-19 pandemic causing mental trauma in Nagaland: Study

A survey conducted by Nagaland's Health & Family Welfare (H&FW) department has shown that insomnia, anxiety and depression have been on the rise
Image for representation

Image for representation

A survey conducted by Nagaland's Health & Family Welfare (H&FW) department has shown that insomnia, anxiety, and depression have been on the rise in the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of virus cases has been on the rise in the Northeast Indian state, the very last in the country to report infections, leading to a rise in the stress-level of the citizens.

The mental health and psychosocial wellbeing survey conducted between June 12 and July 15 against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown took responses from people aged above 16. Altogether 1,127 respondents participated in the study among which 58.2% were males. The average age of the respondents was 32 years -- while 80% of them were graduates or above, 65% were unmarried, 75% lived in urban areas and 82% were living with their families. The majority of them were from Kohima (40%) and Dimapur (35%) districts.

The stated objective of the study was to assess the prevalence of insomnia, anxiety, depression, and somatization (anxiety leading to physical symptoms). Standard questionnaires were used – Insomnia Severity Index for insomnia, Patient Health Questionnaire for anxiety and depression, and Somatic Symptoms Scale for somatization. Additionally, a "fear of COVID-19" scale was also used to assess the level of the phobia associated with the viral disease.

The prevalence of Somatization/Somatic symptoms (medium, high, very high) was 31.9%. The prevalence of depression among the respondents was second highest at 21.4%. As per the survey report, the prevalence of Clinical Insomnia (Moderate and Severe) was found to be 12%, while the prevalence of anxiety was found to be 13.7%.

Among the respondents, 52% perceived to have a low risk of COVID at the workplace, 34% at moderate risk, and 15% at high risk. Statistical analysis showed that women and respondents with high fear of COVID-19 (as per Fear of COVID score) were found to have a significantly higher risk of experiencing insomnia, anxiety, depression, and somatic symptoms amid the crisis period.

People in urban areas and people who perceived to have a moderate or high risk of exposure to COVID-19 at workplace had a significantly higher risk of experiencing insomnia.

As per the Nagaland government's survey, people aged below 30 and those with educational qualification below graduation-led had a higher risk of experiencing depression, while frontline workers (both medical and non-mediacal) has a low risk of experiencing depression.

Other factors like marital status, living with family/staying alone did not significantly affect the risk of experiencing the common mental health conditions assessed in this survey.

The study was done online with limited scope that aimed to only provide a baseline prevalence data on the common mental health conditions in Nagaland during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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