Thursday, December 3

Rafaela Santos: “People have lost confidence due to Covid and that increases stress”

Rafaela Santos, neuropsychiatrist.

Rafaela Santos, neuropsychiatrist.

The president of the Spanish Society of Posttraumatic Stress Specialists and neuropsychiatrist, Rafaela Santos, warns that the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is causing more psychological problems than the first And that’s because “people have lost confidence, and that hopelessness creates stress and depression.”

In an interview with Efe, Santos, who also chairs the Spanish Institute of Resilience (IER), is concerned about “what may come” which, in its opinion, “will be worse” if resources are not allocated to stress prevention, and asks politicians to find a balance between “prudence and fear “because” negative messages do a lot of damage “.

Is mental health expert 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” they handle politicians have to be “consistent” so as not to provoke further 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 stress, in anxiety and depression, “he warns. The stress level of health workers under great pressure since the beginning of the pandemic is also worrisome.

By ages, the older population, which is physically the most vulnerable, is not so mentally since it has a wider “window of tolerance to adversity” than young people.

The young, the most fragile

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.

Children are also 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 warns that there could be a “wave of suicides, which is an added anxiety”. And in this sense, it warns that suicide numbers have skyrocketed and they are already exceeding mortality from traffic accidents.

Santos considers that to get out of the pandemic, it is necessary to have health workers and businessmen, and he wonders “why there hasn’t been a real committee of experts.”

In Santos’ opinion, “many contradictory directives and protocols” have been taken and doctors have had to experiment. For this expert in mental health, the directives to stop the Covid should also take into account doctors, health specialists and businessmen, “they cannot just be political directives.”

However and despite an uncertain scenario, this neurosychiatrist is optimistic and maintains its confidence in “resilience, that is, in knowing how to manage what we are faced with” and for this purpose it proposes programs in companies, schools, teachers and at the individual level in order to acquire that capacity.

Santos relates that 20 years ago in Munich he started measuring in laboratory mice the level of stress and your resilience. He says that a mouse thrown into a water bottle would suddenly make up to 50 laps looking for the exit until it was dejected.

To another mouse The same was done to him but at the last moment he 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 did not 50 but 500 laps.

That is, according to the neuropsychiatrist, “his brain became strong and his resistance capacity multiplied by ten”. “That was 20 years ago, but that is prevention and resilience that can be applied to mental health.”

Santos considers that resilience is a potential “that we all have within but that must be trained” and assures that “one euro for prevention is equal to one hundred euros for treatment and one thousand for rehabilitation.”

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