Ill-effects of demonetisation: Hundreds flock to psychiatrists for counselling

The sudden announcement of discontinuation of Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency notes has led to rise in numbers of people experiencing shock, anxiety, stress and heart attacks

psychatirst-demonstrationSuraj Sethia (name changed), a 52-year-old businessman from Girgaum (Mumbai) had sleepless nights for days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation. His worry and stress came under control only after he consulted a psychiatrist.

While it has been two weeks since the Centre’s announcement, city psychiatrists have been busy attending hundreds of people like Sethia who have been feeling the blues.

“When Sethia approached us, he was stressed as he had sold his plot just two weeks before the demonetisation announcement. He did not know what to do with the money which led him to sleepless nights and continuous palpitations,” said Dr Milan Balakrishnan, psychiatrist, Bombay Hospital.

A week-long medication and counselling helped Sethia to accept the situation and deal with it.

“I gave him short anxiolytic treatment for a week and counselled him. I told him that worst that can happen is he will have to pay tax on the transactions. With short -term treatment, he calmed down and was stress-free, which helped him to take right decisions,” said Balakrishnan.

According to psychiatrists, they have been receiving a significant number of patients suffering from mental stress after the move to discontinue the Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency notes (or denominations).

Narrating a similar incident of counselling, Dr Sagar Mundada, psychiatrist at KEM Hospital, said, “A 58-year-old entrepreneur felt as if he was having a heart attack. He visited two cardiologists and underwent extensive test before visiting me.”

The tests revealed a healthy heart and everything being normal, but his mind was in stress.

“As he had stored huge amount of cash at home, the elderly man was getting panic attacks since the demonetisation announcement. With three days of psychiatric treatment and medication, he is now fine and stable,” said Dr Mundada.

Another psychiatrist, Dr Parul Tank said the sudden implementation of ruling out Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes has not only affected traders, businessmen among others who have black money, but it has also affected common people who have to stand in long queues of banks / ATM.

“With medication, meditation, psychiatric help and family support, one can overcome anxiety and stress,” Dr Tank added.

As many across the country are experiencing sudden panic attacks and stress, psychiatrists say keeping calm is the only solution to deal with anxiety for now.

Dr Avinash D’souza, psychiatrist, said, “If everyone keeps calm and thinks liberally about demonetisation then they will be less stressful.

He added that over the past couple of days, he has received quite a few cases of people who are adversely affected by demonetization.

“One of them was 40 years old who suffered a shock and was tensed about his future investments. He went through major panic attacks, but consultation of two weeks helped him figure out his future plans,” Dr D’souza added.