A Clinical Neuropsychologist at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) Khaluso Masuwa says post-traumatic stress disorder levels were high amongst victims of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) during the COVID-19 peak.

In an interview, Masuwa said a number of frontline health workers were also overwhelmed, which had led to psychological burnout.

“In terms of the social interactions, there were high levels of post traumatic stress amongst those who underwent GBV. The levels of GBV were a lot, the record was quite high around that period of COVID-19. There are a lot of factors that can be attributed such as not working, staying at home, so frustrations were high as a result it led to GBV cases which made people especially women develop some kind of anxiety disorders as a result of the same,” he said.

“On the end of the health care workers, the frontline health care workers, most of them, seemly had been in so much stress around that period. And some of them were showing symptoms of, at least those that we interacted with, around that period, most of them were overwhelmed with jobs such that it led to high levels of stress and others would have what we call psychological burnout, where they would want to do their work but the time is limited and could not meet their demands. So, most of them were doing it out of love. Actually, they could go in high spirits but they could not attend to all the patients, as a result, they just watched and this led to some sort of feeling low which is called burnout.”

He said the loss of employment had increased stress levels among some citizens.

“People were failing to make ends meet; there are others who lost employment, so in the process, they tried to run up and down to try and make ends meet as a result they were met with stress. Those who lost employment, I think there was a time when developing companies were getting rid of employees who were considered less essential, they went into depression as a result of loss of employment,” he said.

He said the levels of anxiety and depression increased during the third wave because a number of people had lost their beloved ones.

“Initially when Coronavirus began, there was a lot of anxiety that seemingly happened. To some extent, some people developed symptoms of COVID-19 as a result of anxiety, not really that they had it. So, when it started, the levels of anxiety were high, such as having problems with carrying out their normal routine, going about their businesses, those going to school, and those who work because of fear of the same. So, it is not that people were isolated as a result of being sick but because of fear when they developed symptoms. That was in the earlier stages. But as it became more like a common thing going forward, the levels of anxiety went a little bit down. Of course, anxiety was bordering on people getting it (COVID-19) themselves and also losing their beloved ones,” said Masuwa.

“I think this could have been in the third wave which really affected people in so many ways; a lot of beloved ones were lost. As a result many people were scared. So that was the one aspect of mental health which we noticed. Professional work was done online which also came with a lot of hiccups, you people not being so familiar with the gadgets, this and that and then they had deadlines to meet so that was a lot of stress that occurred. Then amongst those that could have lost their beloved ones, quite a number developed depression. So, many people went into depression as a result of losing their loved ones from the virus.”