Keep cool, ask for help
BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon (The Freeman) - April 7, 2020 - 12:00am

Are you finding yourself feeling irritable or moody lately? Do you easily lose patience with other people for their suggestions or opinions on social media that clash with yours?

The low mood and irritability may have nothing to do with age (the impatience of youth or the hormonal changes of advancing age). Since the community quarantine began, I see more people, old and young alike, clashing with friends on social media over their opinion about the government, and ending up announcing they have “unfriended” or “unfollowed” erstwhile friends.

They may be suffering from what experts call some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the Dayton Daily News, some recent research shows that people who are quarantined during an infectious disease outbreak have higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms than those who are exposed but not quarantined.

Of course, everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. In a pandemic, some people may become hypochondriacs (abnormally anxious about their health), while others may have difficulty sleeping or concentrating. There are also those who, as I said, may become extra irritable or moody.

The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) says that this is not unusual. “It’s normal to worry about our health and that of our loved ones, our work, and finances. But there are ways to lessen our stress and anxiety so that we can better care for ourselves and our family members,” the PAP says.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises us to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting, says the CDC. In the same vein, the PAP says we should avoid arguments online as these will make us feel worse.

It’s also important to take care of our body. “Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs,” says the CDC. Make time to unwind, and try to do some other activities you enjoy. It’s also important, according to the CDC, to connect with others and talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

If you need help, the Philippine Red Cross has COVID-19 Hotline 1158 which connects you to a volunteer social worker who can give psychosocial support. Based on the R.A. 11036 or the Mental Health Act, there may also be available mental health services in your city, municipality, and barangay.

The Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) has an Online Psychosocial Support program which provides online consultation from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays, at www.facebook.com/PMHAofficial/, Email: pmhacds@gmail.com, SMS: 0917-5652036. The Department of Health - National Center for Mental Health also has crisis hotline responders who can provide psychological first aid and suicide first aid for those in distress. The following hotlines are open 24/7: Landline: 7989-USAP (8727), Mobile: 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 0917-989-USAP (8727).

United Nations Chief Antonio Guterres, in a related development, has sounded the alarm on the “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” directed towards women and girls which is linked to community quarantines or shelter-in-place orders imposed by governments responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a press release last Sunday, the UN secretary-general pointed out that “for many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest: in their own homes.”

If you’re in this situation, you may call the police or access the Philippine Commission on Women services through their website and official social media account: www.facebook.com/PCWgovph, Email: oed@pcw.gov.ph, or through the DWSD hotline (02) 931-8101 to 07.

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