Our hospital’s Mental Health and Diseases Specialist Dr. Ufuk Çalışkan who made statements on the effects of COVID-19 on psychology, also listed what needs to be done to deal with the COVID-19 anxiety.
What are the effects of the pandemic on our mental state, how did the pandemic affect us psychologically?
The pandemic had a negative impact on all of us, as everyone can clearly see in their own lives. In this case, it is not possible that it will not affect negatively. When we look at human beings, they are defined by human genes, and they try to survive and stay for future generations like any other gene. From our point of view, it becomes a directly effective process in terms of survival and staying for future generations, so it threatens our lives. While threatening our lives, it affects and changes us. Our brains come into play at this point. We think there is a different mechanism in our brain for each event, but there is a general mechanism for each event in our brain. For example; there are separate mechanisms for threat and separate mechanisms for pleasure. When you gamble, fall in love, or perform religious rituals, the same mechanism is involved, so it is involved in all pleasures. There is likewise a different mechanism for threat and this is related to our perception of threat. Our threat perception differs according to the current situation and age, and it constantly works to keep us alive. And the Coronavirus also makes this situation constantly active. Therefore, we are constantly faced with a state of uneasiness and anxiety.
How is the psychology of the people who lost their relatives due to coronavirus or whose relatives have this disease affected by this situation?
As we do not expect a person who has never faced an earthquake to have a very high anxiety about the earthquake, likewise, the anxiety about the coronavirus is not that high.
The feeling of being affected and worrying is greater in the loss of a relative. This is an extremely normal process when we consider it in terms of brain mechanism. But when anxiety increases, tendency to all diseases, especially depression, also increases. With COVID-19, our anxiety level also increases. And this situation causes an increase in all psychiatric diseases.
What should individuals do for a solid psychology during the Coronavirus process?
We are doing many things just as we learned, especially our native language, Turkish. We are trying to solve problems, we perceive life as a place of problems. We cannot deny that there are problems in our lives and that we need to solve them, but we have to solve them, because our survival depends on it. But unlike all living things, we must have a different distinction as human beings. We need to make an effort to be happy and produce happiness. We need to develop our behaviour accordingly. Let’s strive for happiness. If we fill the room that we are in with problems, there will not be enough space to put happiness. However, on the contrary, if we fill the room with happiness, there will be no place for problems. Life can compare us with economic difficulties with COVID-19 and other diseases but we must strive for happiness. We should be able to define life not as a place of problem or a problem-solving place, but as a place to produce happiness besides and unlike them. When we can behave in this way, life becomes more comfortable and peaceful. In addition to the pleasure mechanism and problem solving mechanism in our brain, there is also an oxytocin substance. Oxytocin substance gives us peace of mind and confidence. This substance comes into play in intimate relationships and when we hug each other.
If we create peace by activating this substance, many problems will actually not be a problem anymore. This does not mean that no problem will be solved, it means to make problem solving enjoyable. In addition, regular walking and regular exercise should be done. Our brain actually tracks our whole body. It moves depending on the body’s reactions. We should be cared for ourselves, not for someone to see, especially in this period when the pandemic prevails and we cannot host anyone in our home. When we do all these, life will turn into a more enjoyable place.