BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a suboptimal response to this threatening global disaster, including the response to the psychological impact . Both the economic hardship and the continuous media coverage of alarming news have exacerbated this effect which also includes increased domestic violence .
AIM: To address this important aspect of disaster management and provide recommendations on how to mitigate these effects .
METHODS: This is a narrative review written by three experts in community medicine, disaster medicine and psychiatry reflecting the interdisciplinary approach in managing disasters . Selected important papers, personal published papers, PUBMED articles and media news related to the disaster management of the psychological effects of COVID-19 pandemic were collected over the last year, critically appraised and used in writing this manuscript .
RESULTS: The COVID-19 pandemic causes major emotional distress . Lack of effective treatments and availability of the current vaccines for this virus increases the fear of being infected and infecting others . Negative emotions are common and are related to adjustment but may progress in the long term to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress syndrome . The COVID-19 pandemic has a major impact on mental health . The most common distress reactions include anxiety, insomnia, perception of insecurity, anger, fear of illness, and risky behaviors . Patients having mental disorders are vulnerable during the pandemic because of (1) somatic vulnerability, (2) cognitive and behavioral vulnerability, (3) psychosocial vulnerability, and (4) disruption to psychiatric care . Psychiatric wards, which are commonly separate from main hospitals, should be included in the disaster management plans . Acute care physicians carry the psychological and ethical impact of difficult triage decisions when ending the support of some patients to save others . A combination of fear and guilt may overcome normal human tolerance levels in vulnerable health workers . The moral injuries can be carried for a long time .
CONCLUSIONS: Addressing the psychological effects is an essential component of disaster management of infectious pandemics . This should be implemented through the whole spectrum of disaster management including preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery.
Index: COVID-19, Distress, Domestic violence, Mental stress, New Corona virus, Psychiatry