Those most impacted by this change in lifestyle are those with anxiety and Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), says Dr Vivian Kapil, consultant psychiatrist, SIMS Hospital. For those without such issues, the knee-jerk reaction is denial.
“Change usually elicits feelings of uncertainty, distress or anticipatory anxiety in any individual. People wish to remain in the same state without changing as it gives them a sense of familiarity, security or comfort. Hence, they can go into denial and so on, that they do not have to confront those uncomfortable feelings. But it can prove detrimental both to the individual and society. They can engage in high-risk behaviours like not wearing masks in public or also as a result of their underlying personality traits like poor consequential thinking and low frustration tolerance, thrill/sensation-seeking behaviours,” says Dr Kapil.
Citing rule-flaunting behaviour as results of general adjustment syndrome or adjustment disorder, Dr Janakiraman, behavioural scientist and mental health counsellor, says that it is important for people to be aware of their mental state at this time, as it affects their behaviour.
“When shifting from one lifestyle to another, everyone will slowly change their mental behaviour patterns to get accustomed to it. This repeats and causes stress. When this stress increases, it impacts their stress hormones. People will also have to attend to their behavioural immune system, which refers to the mental preparedness towards disease. Some people are paranoid, while others take the necessary precautions and no more. For those who feel paranoid, their ability to handle infection will be compromised, and they need to build on this,” he says.
The intensity of these feelings, the duration and the recovery period differ between individuals, he adds. While it is difficult to predict, Dr Kapil says that accurate news and confronting the root of those feelings will help combat their denial, and thus, keep themselves and those around them safe.