ROUEN, France (AP) – The panicked 22-year-old was taken to Consultation Hall № 2, with an easy-to-clean floor and a beehive above the window. Behind her, the heavy double doors of the psychiatric ward — opening only with an employee’s key — closed.
With anxious taps on her white sneakers, she confides in a psychiatrist on duty how the loneliness of locking up the coronavirus and the anxiety of not finding a job in a market ravaged by a pandemic contribute to her whirlwind of anxiety. She is worried that she is obsessing over knives, fearing that her mental health may collapse.
“The lock ̵
“I want to calm down,” the woman says, “that I’m not going crazy.”
Forcing millions of people to stay at home once again – detachment from family and friends, the formwork business they invested in, the university classes that fed their minds and the nightclubs where they socialized – have so far begun to reverse the renewed tide of coronavirus. France which pushed him out in November past the grim stage of 52,000 dead.
But the cost of mental health is significant. Now the number of patients with French COVID-19 is declining in intensive care, psychiatrists face a subsequent wave of psychological stress. The study by health authorities points to an influx of depression, most acute among unemployed people, the financially disadvantaged and young adults.
Rouvray Hospital in Rouen, Normandy is one of the places where psychiatrists are at the forefront of the mental health impact of the pandemic. They fear that a growing crisis of depression, anxiety and worse may be on the horizon as more livelihood, future and hope are lost in the pandemic. Associated Press reporters spent 10 hours in the sprawling 535-bed facility a day after French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a plan that runs until mid-January. to gradually remove the restrictions on locking.
In the emergency psychiatric ward, while Facello sends the 22-year-old house with a prescription for anti-anxiety drugs and an appointment to see her again in two weeks, the double doors open again.
This is another young woman, 25 years old, a student of linguistics. She is directed to Counseling Room 1, where she sits silently in the dark when night falls.
On the ward’s whiteboard, which lists patients’ names and details, an abbreviated initial diagnosis, handwritten on a piece of paper, uses abbreviations to see how well she may have dealt with the irreparable. In the last week, she is said to have suffered from “IDS” – suicidal ideation – and to have imagined “IMV” or to have ingested drugs voluntarily.
The ward’s chief psychiatrist, Sandrine Elias, gently teases the student about how the lock left her completely alone, with classes suspended.
This is not the only reason for her malaise. Elias learns that the young woman had a difficult adolescence, with suicide attempts. Isolation during the epidemic only intensified the student’s suffering. In a low voice, she tells Elias that she is “putting us in front of her.”
“I’m a person who stays at home, but this absolute restriction is a real burden,” she said.
Elias immediately decides to hospitalize her. Observed rest and medication, Elias said, could help her.
“You need a framework to take care of. It is not possible to be alone in your studio, ”says the psychiatrist. “It’s very good that you came here.”
Not all seekers have a previous psychiatric history. Mental health experts say the locks and curfew have also destabilized people who, in less challenging times, may have overcome difficulties by negotiating with family and friends rather than end up in psychiatric wards.
“Being alone between four walls is awful,” says Elias. “Stopping life like this resonates with people. Not good. ”
Nathan, a 22-year-old student, came through the emergency room two days earlier. The diary shows that he was admitted at 5:20 p.m. and was moved that evening to a longer stay.
There, in Room 14, he told psychiatrist Olivier Gulin that he had sought emergency help, “because I felt my morale was falling too fast, that I was able to turn around with suicidal thoughts.”
Such thoughts had first set him in the summer, after the initial blockade of France from March to May. They struck again when the country was closed for the second time from October 30. His university closed. His political science classes were virtual. Instead of being alone in his student apartment, he moved with his parents to Rouen, disconnected from his support network and thinking about his uncertain future.
“The first lock didn’t really have much of an effect on me,” he told Gulin, but the second “really drowned me.”
“The fact that I was locked up again always had to stay within a limited perimeter, not being able to see my friends as often as usual, upset me,” he said.
The security of his hospitalization and medication quickly began to stabilize him. On his nightstand rested the Rubik’s cube he had decided.
Guilin, who heads several units at the hospital and has 200 medical staff working under him, says he has seen a sharp rise in young people seeking help with anxiety, depression, addictions and other difficulties. He is preparing for more.
“We will most likely see the crest of the wave in the coming months,” he said.
The pandemic has had other mental health consequences that are less obvious but no less devastating.
Guillin is still complaining about the death of a patient who committed suicide during the first lock, 48 hours after what turned out to be their last appointment. At this meeting, she wore a mask to protect herself from the virus. That prevents him from reading the depths of her suffering, he says.
“She was a very expressive lady and there, with the mask, I misjudged things,” he says. “In retrospect, I tell myself that maybe without the mask I would be more alert and do more.”
Patients are also hurt by the shift of mental health resources to the fight against COVID-19.
Electroconvulsive therapy, which helped Laura, a student, get out of her severe depression, was thrown into disarray when anesthesiologists – needed to put her to sleep while electric currents passed through her brain – were requisitioned to care for patients with viruses.
“My morale dropped a little later, and the idea of suicide came back,” she told Gulin.
Laura says of her that the therapy was “as urgent as COVID-19.” She says prioritizing viral patients is “a little stupid and vile.” Now, instead of being released from the hospital by mid-November, as she had hoped, Laura had to stay.
For the third time in two hours, another young woman dressed in black, looking hollow, enters the emergency room through the double doors. With room 1 already occupied by the 25-year-old, the 18-year-old high school student shows up in room 2. After her initial interview with a nurse and caregiver, she curls up in her chair.
Nurse Sebastien Lormelet and caregiver Anita Delaru exchange notes in the staff room, where the teenager’s name and time of admission, 5:02 p.m., is written in black on the board.
“Locking has a lot to do with this because she says the first one was difficult. With the second one now, if he could slip away, he would do it, “Delaru said.
“She wouldn’t last a third.”
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