The president of the Spanish Society of Post-traumatic Stress Specialists and neuropsychiatrist, Rafaela Santos, warns that the second wave of the pandemic is causing more psychological problems that the first and that is because “people have lost confidence, and that hopelessness generates stress and depression.”
In an interview, Santos, who also chairs the Spanish Institute of Resilience (IER), is concerned about “what may come” which, in her opinion, “it will be worse” if resources are not allocated to the prevention of stress, and asks politicians to find a balance between “prudence and fear” because “negative messages do a lot of damage”.
This expert in mental health explains that when a date is set at the end of a confinement, the brain “sees the light at the end of the tunnel” but when a new closure is proposed, “the message of fear causes stress” so he understands that those “little pills” that politicians handle have to be “coherent” so as not to cause more uncertainty.
For this neuropischiatrist, the most vulnerable to stress (which in Spain with the pandemic already affects one in three people) are the people who have broken their economic structure, who have lost their jobs and lack basic resources to survive.
“If the economic level falls a lot, and that is a reality, it will influence the stress, anxiety and depression“, warns.
It also worries the stress level of toilets under great pressure since the start of the pandemic.
Most vulnerable population
By age, the older population, which is physically the most vulnerable, is not mentally so since it has “a window of tolerance to adversity“broader than the young.
Therefore, they are young people with ages between 24 and 34 years the most fragile in a stressful situation since their level of tolerance to adversity is very low.
Also they children are vulnerable (one in four suffers stress) but here the responsibility falls more on parents, teachers and tutors, since minors are a “mirror” of their attitudes, he says.
Santos refers to “pandemic exhaustion” of which the World Health Organization speaks and which is nothing more than “the uncertainty of not knowing where we are going.”
It also alerts that there could be a “wave of suicides, which is an addition to anxiety. “And in this sense, he warns that suicide figures have skyrocketed and now exceed mortality from traffic accidents.
Santos considers that to get out of the pandemic it is necessary to have health workers and businessmen, and wonders “why there has not been a real expert committee“.
According to Santos, “many directives and conflicting protocols“and the doctors have had to experiment.
For this mental health expert, the directives to curb Covid should also take into account doctors, health specialists and businessmen, “they cannot be alone political directives“.
However and despite an uncertain scenario, this neurosychiatrist is optimistic and maintains her confidence in “resilience, that is to say, in knowing how to manage what we are faced with “and for this it proposes programs in companies, schools, teachers and at the individual level to be able to acquire that capacity.
Santos reports that 20 years ago in Munich, laboratory mice began to measure the level of stress and your resilience.
Account that a mouse thrown into a jerrycan of water he would suddenly make up to 50 laps looking for the exit until he was dejected.
Another mouse was done the same but at the last moment it was offered a twig to climb up and out. Three days later, that same rodent was subjected to the same test but his brain was no longer stressed the same because he was waiting for the twig to climb that did not arrive until it made, not 50 but 500 laps.
In other words, as the neuropsychiatrist explains, “his brain became strong and his resistance capacity multiplied by 10”. “That was 20 years ago but that is prevention and resilience that can be apply tomental health“.
Santos considers that resilience is a potential “that we all have within but that you have to train“and ensures that” one euro for prevention is equal to 100 euros for treatment and 1000 for rehabilitation. “