Don’t panic, say two Chiang Mai psychiatrists

 | Thu 19 Mar 2020 16:13 ICT

CityNews – Dr. Paritat Silpakit, deputy director of Suan Prung Hospital warned CityNews that he has seen a drop in numbers of patients who have come to seek psychiatric care over the past weeks. He attributes this to the fear people have of going out, and the unreasonable fear they have of going to hospitals.

“As long as you avoid crowds, be sensible, follow international guidelines, don’t panic, then you are fine,” he said. “But if you do have anxiety or psychological problems, we are all very ready and primed here at Suan Prung to help. We follow high standards in caring for our patients. Whereas in the past relatives could all come in to visit, we only allow one at a time. Patients waiting rooms also have seats separated at a safe distance from one another and we are constantly cleaning and making sure that we disinfect at all times.”

Dr. Paritat said that depression and addiction have been on the rise for years, and lately has been on a sharp rise amongst the youth who are affected by the pressures of society, social media, false values, expectations, the environment and their families. “People don’t spend enough time together anymore, this has led to a dramatic rise in patients with psychiatric problems and disorders.”

As to the current situation, Dr. Pairat Pruksachatkun of Huay Kaew Clinic said, “The current cocktail of a situation, which includes this global viral pandemic, the pollution crisis and the economic meltdown, is causing a lot of distress to many people. Some people are more worried about their health, others about the economy, whatever it is, these are very real concerns which are causing some people who may not be at their peak mental and physical health, to suffer from neuro chemical imbalance. This imbalance manifests itself physically. You can find yourself starting to shake, having sleepless nights, suffering from aching muscles, irritation, even stomach cramps and diarrhea.  While these are all physical symptoms, they are often caused by chemical imbalance caused by extreme stress.”

“If we are strong emotionally and physically strong then the chemicals are under control,” he continued. “But genetics, bad diet, negative news, these things can all affect the mental state which can also lead to behavioral changes such as weight loss, lack of appetite, agoraphobia, anxiety and sleeplessness.

Now for the good news. Dr. Pairat pointed to CityNews the fact that last year the US magazine CEOWORLD placed Thailand sixth in its’ 2019 list of countries with the best healthcare system. That is a pretty impressive place to be sitting. And this, says the doctor, is why he feels very confident that we will weather this COVID-19 virus well.

“Hospitals and health care centres are probably the safest place to go to,” he insists. “Doctors are at the front line of this virus and also the most knowledgeable about it. They would not work in an unsafe situation and we all know the protocol. Air ventilation, hygiene, use of masks and hand sanitisers, hospitals are far far safer than some markets and pubs and bars. In many places people don’t take proper precaution, in hospitals we do.”

“There has also been an influx of doctors who are returning from countries all over the world during this time,” he continued. “Not only does that add to our manpower, but the feedback from them has been heartening. They have been beyond impressed at Thailand’s preparations. They say that our medical networks in place right now are far superior than most countries in the world. Our filtering system is actually excellent. Doctors all over the country know what to look out for and know where to send patients to if they suspect they have signs of COVID-19. I am also confident with our social distancing, self-quarantine. Last night’s measures to shut down various venues was an excellent decision which I believe we will look back on and be grateful for.”

Yesterday CityNews interviewed an infectious disease expert who confirmed the Chiang Mai Public Health’s number of patients in Chiang Mai who have tested positive for COVID-19 at only 1 person. Dr. Pairat said that he had heard that many people don’t believe that figure, accusing the government of lying.

“I know many people think that the numbers are being hidden,” he explained. “But as a physician who has been working here in Chiang Mai my entire life, I can tell you right now that doctors won’t lie. We take our jobs very seriously and we will not lie about life or death matters. Sure, there may be more cases which haven’t been tested. But the number of people who have tested positive is in fact just one. Doctors don’t dare lie. We have no reason to. We don’t benefit from it. So any rumours to the contrary are false. I’m sure that with more tests coming soon we are going to find more cases. But with venues closing down this will slow the spread and with the hot weather that may help too. Chiang Mai is as prepared as anywhere for any eventuality.”