First Covid, now layoffs: Indian professionals undergo tremendous stress, anxiety

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New Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) Amid the growing layoffs, there has been a surge in the number of patients coming from various companies — both office-goers and those working from home — with panic anxiety attacks and depression as they fear losing control over their immediate future plans, mental health experts said on Monday.

About 3,000 tech professionals are losing their jobs on an average daily in the month of January, including thousands in India.

According to health experts, the last 2-3 years of Covid lockdowns, deaths, and fear of re-infection, and now massive layoffs, have resulted in extreme stress for Indian professionals.

Dr Saumya Mudgal, Senior Consultant, Psychiatry, Max Hospital in Gurugram, told IANS that there has been a drastic increase in the number of patients coming from MNCs.

“These patients are usually presented with the issues of panic anxiety and panic disorder with agoraphobia and there is quite an increase in such patients. Some of them are already taking medications and the requirement of medication has gone up and the severity of symptoms has gone up,” Dr Mudgal told IANS.

According to her, there are a lot of people coming with fresh or recent onset symptoms of anxiety and adjustment issues pertaining to anxiety or mixed anxiety.

Layoffs and loss of employment are very stressful experiences for most people. It is a time filled with uncertainties, economic challenges and loss of control over your future.

According to Dr Rishi Gautam, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, The GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC, this can lead to significant impact on a professional’s mental health and cause anxiety, depressed mood, shock and grief.

“It affects sleep and appetite, increases risk of unhealthy consumption of drugs and alcohol, causes worsened irritability, loss of self-esteem, family discord etc,” Dr Gautam told IANS.

Dr Arti Anand, a senior clinical psychologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi, said that the pandemic and massive layoffs both knocked out the working class without any warning.

“This leads to fear and stress. The way to deal with it is to be able to use your available resources, not to panic and stop thinking negatively about the future,” she advised.

Health experts said that to cope in these uncertain times is by maintaining supportive relationships with friends and family, exercising regularly and practicing mindfulness.

Keep a positive attitude and outlook. Stay away from generalising negative thoughts like “I will never have a job again or I will never enjoy my work again etc,” said Dr Gautam.

Divya Mohindroo, Founder, Embrace Imperfections and a counselling psychologist, told IANS that those impacted in the current layoffs need to deal with it practically, rather than emotionally.

“Start making a list of potential employers, research about available opportunities and companies, look for avenues to upskill and even diversify into other sectors, if required,” she advised.

“Approach employers while being mentally prepared to describe their situation while pitching their candidature. It is also important to network – with friends, ex-bosses and colleagues,” she said.

All professionals should share their work responsibilities with colleagues at work and family members at home, which will help them not only be accountable but also feel light about their life and tasks in hand,” Mohindroo noted.

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