Cameroon: “Fear does more damage than the virus itself”

Dr Laure Mengueme, psychologist.

Doctor, does any Covid 19 patient need psychological support?

Since the appearance of the new coronavirus, some media have given a pejorative image of this disease. This is why in our context, Covid-19 is synonymous with death. Thus, when an individual is diagnosed positive, he goes into a state of panic, even if he is asymptomatic. His entourage also enters this panic. And in these cases, the fear or stress of Covid-19 does more damage than the virus itself. In most patients, stress is the cause of the transition from the asymptomatic form to the symptomatic form, and can be the cause of many other damages such as irritability, aggressiveness, insomnia, headaches, anxiety disorders, depression, psychotic disorders, among others. One can also have gastritis, cases of decompensation of diabetes, hypertension and even cases of death. Because if the patient is not psychologically ready sometimes the treatment does not work.

Why is this support necessary?

The problem is the representation we have of this disease, the negative communication on social networks, and certain media. This support aims to give patients, their entourage and the entire population as much information as possible about the coronavirus and give them tips for managing the stress of Covid-19, in order to allow them to live peacefully this period of pandemic. . Currently, the entire population needs psychological care. Because right now everyone is in a state of panic. For example, the population flees hospitals for fear of being contaminated by the virus. This is a real mental health problem (ill being). The ill-being in which individuals find themselves when they think they should go to the hospital sometimes causes complications, especially for patients who have diabetes or hypertension attacks for example. Sometimes, some die because they arrive late in hospital training. All this because of the fear of the coronavirus. Everyone needs to be reassured, psychologically supported. The most needy are the families and their children who are often victims of stigma and this is not easy to manage alone.

Are there any convincing results?

The psychological follow-up is done in three phases. Before the sample, when the result is announced and if the patient is declared positive for Covid-19. Psychological support is provided in hospitals or in isolation camps through relaxation sessions, discussions between patients and medical staff on stress management. There are also debriefing sessions on the virus. Because for many, catching this virus is inevitable, but it is not always the case. There are always convincing results, because everyone needs to be reassured during this period. After psychological care, the individual is ready to face the future and its many challenges.

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