Panic buying needs to stop, say mental health experts. It is merely a way to regain a sense of control in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak, says Malaysian Mental Health Association president Prof Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj.
He said anxiety was a natural response to the pandemic, “People indulge in panic buying as it gives them comfort that they are ‘taking control’ of their lives in an uncertain situation. Some level of anxiety actually can be useful, but too much anxiety leads to panic and frenzied hypochondriacal thinking,”
Datuk Dr Andrew urged the public to seek out authentic news from reliable sources and get their updates at only certain times of the day to not feel overwhelmed by the information.
“Human beings essentially like to lead planned lives, and rumours and misinformation can lead to destabilising all the planning, therefore having access to appropriate information is most important in the current situation,”
“We should update ourselves with information at appropriate intervals, instead of waiting by our phones to receive WhatsApp messages with conflicting information,”
“We should update ourselves with information at appropriate intervals, instead of waiting by our phones to receive WhatsApp messages with conflicting information or staying glued to the television for updates, ” he said.
Associate Professor Dr Anasuya Jegathevi Jegathesan, a psychology programme director at a private university says, “When people have all the items they need at home, they feel a sense of comfort, a sense of control,”
“But in reality, it is more of a response to fear. The person is actually afraid, so they are giving into the fear and they are not planning or thinking ahead, ” she said in an interview with The Star Online.
Feelings of anxiety must be managed in a healthy manner so as not to worsen the health crisis, she said. “It is a gut reaction of wanting to protect your family and while that is important, people must not respond in a way that would make the crisis worse,”
Panic buying would only deprive other people of essential items, which would cause the virus to further spread in the community, she added. “Planned buying is much better. People need to sit down with their family members, write down what they actually need and what could be stored in the house,”
Panic buying would only deprive other people of essential items, which would cause the virus to further spread in the community
“Right now we have too much information and the worst thing for someone with anxiety to do is to look for information right before they sleep and right after they wake up,” Dr Anasuya said.
Reports of panic buying are picking up in Malaysia as the Covid-19 crisis continues. According to data analytics company Nielsen, sales of hand sanitisers in Malaysia reached almost RM1mil in the week ending Jan 26, which is more than 800% above the weekly average.
Stop panic buying, guys. Let’s buy only what we need.