Doctors, patients dealing with increasing physical, mental health consequences of pandemic

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — As we report fewer cases of COVID-19, doctors say they are starting to see major secondary health consequences in their patients from the pandemic.

Those consequences include a rise in mental and physical health issues not directly from the virus, but from all the other issues that surrounding it.

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Internal medicine specialist Dr. Aftab Khan said he’s not only seeing these health issues with his older patients but his younger ones, too. That includes everything from anxiety and depression to hypertension and diabetes.

“Hopelessness was everywhere. And a lot of people were saying they were on edge. People who are nice to each other, now they were excessively crying. They were irritated,” Khan said.

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He said the stress from financial issues, unemployment, isolation and exposure to COVID-19 is taking a toll on mental health.

The lack of physical activity, and a change in diet during the pandemic, is also leading to diabetes, high cholesterol, and muscle issues, among other issues.

Khan said doctors are also having a difficult time after taking on the pain of their patients over the past 15 months of the pandemic.

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He said many doctors, nurses and other health care staff are depressed, feeling hopeless at times, and are dealing with post-traumatic stress.

“So my message to all of my colleagues is seek help, talk to your spouses, talk to your loved ones, talk to your children,” Khan said.

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He knows it’s easy for care providers to let their own health fall to the side, but he hopes speaking up will empower others to do the same.

“Because if you’re not mentally and physically healthy, it will be difficult for you to provide help to others,” he said.

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.