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Mental health of exhausted Covid doctors now a major concern

PUNE As challenges around Covid increase, doctors on Covid duty are under severe pressure
By Namrata Devikar
PUBLISHED ON APR 25, 2021 08:21 PM IST

PUNE As challenges around Covid increase, doctors on Covid duty are under severe pressure. In the first wave, the doctors were overworked, but now they have to deal with saving lives as the health infrastructure is crumbling.

Tough decisions, death of patients, delay in treatment due to non-availability of ventilator beds and a shortage of medicines, are leaving doctors stressed, and emotionally and mentally vulnerable.

Dr Vijay Yadav, president of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (Mard), who also treats at Sasssoon General Hospital, said that the doctors in the Covid ward are working day and night.

“There is no data available regarding mental health issues, but yes, doctors are mentally exhausted by because of heavy duties, and patients dying after which they have to inform relatives about the death. To add to this, there are few resources available. It’s been more than a year we are doing regular Covid duties without quarantine. PPE kits have become a uniform for us. After working in the PPE we are drenched in sweat and dehydrated both,” said Yadav.

“Also, seeing someone die in spite of every honest attempt to save their life is making us mentally exhausted. Many of our residents are working in the hospital even if their parents are Covid positive. Many of us have not gone home, as there’s a chance that we may spread it to family members,” said Dr Yadav.

A city-based psychiatrist, on the condition of anonymity, said that doctors working in the Covid ward have more chances of experiencing anxiety than other doctors.

“There is too much exhaustion and fatigue as they do not have a clear idea of when this pandemic may end. This is adding more stress,” said the psychiatrist.

A recent paper published in the Indian Journal of Social Psychiatric, states that 43.4 per cent of healthcare workers had at least one of the psychological symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. The research was done by the Department of Psychiatry at the YCM Hospital.

“Resident doctors and nurses had a higher

incidence of psychological symptoms. The presence of chronic illness was significantly associated with psychological symptoms. Increased use of avoidant coping strategies correlated with severe anxiety and depression,” the paper, published on March 31, 2021, stated.

Dr Ajit Mane, president of Mard, working at YCM Hospital, said, “Patients come late as they are refused ventilator beds at several hospitals due to non-availability. This causes their condition to deteriorate. In such conditions, no matter how hard doctors try, they are not able to save the patient. The authorities should have acted proactively when the cases were low. Today doctors are struggling on so many fronts.”

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