For Moyeen, Covid-19 could not have come at a worse time – he was supposed to get married this month. Caring for his aging parents would have become easier with a partner. But now, with his life put on "Pause" for an indefinite period, his mental health is deteriorating fast.
"To be honest, I feel like killing myself sometimes. Then I dismiss the thought, thinking about my parents," he said.
An optimistic person with no prior history of a mental illness, Moyeen had been working in a private firm for the last two years. Once the novel coronavirus hit Bangladesh, his firm shut down without any notice. Employees did not even get paid.
With each passing day, he gets quieter and more anxious as the number of coronavirus patients keep rising and the shutdown keeps getting extended.
"Staying indoors all day is suffocating! But I cannot go out of the house."
This decline in his mental health is reminiscent of the SARS epidemic in 2003, when there was an increase in suicide rates in Hong Kong. Though suicide was more prevalent among elderly people, the action specifies the psychological impact of the outbreak.
On March 27 this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that fear and stress would increase as natural reaction to the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
A group of mental health experts of The Lancet Psychiatry recently declared that anxiety and stress is already affecting people. They conducted a research with over 2,000 online participants, which revealed increased social isolation to be the major adverse consequence of Covid-19 among the subjects, creating feelings of loneliness strongly associated with anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide.
"The coronavirus may have a profound and pervasive impact on global mental health," the researchers concluded.
Dr Farah Deeba, associate professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology of Dhaka University, said, "Pandemics are traumatic for anyone. Anxiety and worry are common psychological reactions, which may trigger other psychological problems."
The effects are not limited to a few select age groups either.
At first, eighth grader Shoumi spent most of her time on homework, caring for her pet birds and putting her colour pencils to good use after her school closed on March 16.
The monotony of her routine set in on the 23rd day, making the teenager restless and taking away her appetite. She no longer feels like studying, and the constant chirping of her avian companions make her angry.
All she longs for is fresh air, but her parents will not even let her out on the balcony. Uncontrollable fits of rage and tears are all she can muster as her parents fight with each other.
For Noyon, a post-graduate student at the Rajshahi University, the situation got so bad that he had to take counselling sessions over the phone.
A stranger to living in isolation, he has doubled down on fixating on all his fears, worries and anxieties after his university closed for an indefinite period. What about his finances? Will he ever get a job? Why are people defying the shutdown?
These worries soon made their way into his sleep, giving him nightmares and prompting him to seek professional help.
But what about those who were already suffering from mental health problems?
Semonty had been suffering from clinical depression and anxiety for three years. She started to get better after six months of intensive counselling. In February, her doctor said she did not need regular sessions anymore.
Then the shutdown began and she drowned even further into depression. Her anxiety levels are much higher than before and she has started taking sessions with her counsellor over the phone.
Clinical psychologist Depon Chandra Sarker, who is providing online counselling, has confirmed the upsurge of anxiety and stress among his patients.
"They are afraid of death. The fear is instigating anxiety. As a result, there is a loss of concentration, loss of appetite or sleep," he said.
Dr Ashique Selim, lead consultant psychiatrist at Psychological Health and Wellness Clinic (PHWC) said people are currently in an unknown territory.
"None of us has ever experienced anything like this. So, it is normal to feel mentally unstable. But it is also important to get back to normalcy as we do not know how long the shutdown will last for."
According to him, keeping oneself away from negativity is the first thing people should try these days.
He suggests watching the news once or, at maximum, twice a day.
"Otherwise, news that is not relevant to our situation will tailor the tendency of overthinking."
The psychiatrist further said maintaining a routine is important. Proper sleep, proper meals and exercise can keep us fresh. Limiting the use of social media is also important, according to him, as it provides a lot of fake news.
"As we are isolated, social media can help us fight the loneliness accompanied by it. But we should use it within an appropriate limit," he said.
To occupy the mind, he suggested taking up online courses. Above all, he said, nurturing hobbies can be refreshing and helpful in dealing with the stress and anxiety.
Dr Farah Deeba along with her two colleagues are conducting a research on mental health during this pandemic. Interested ones can participate in her research by filling up the form below. They will be providing psychotherapy free of cost to the ones who need it according to their research result.
Click here to get the form
*Some names have been changed in order to protect identities.