Ebola's effect on the human mind


“Once a one is told of they have a terminal disease like Ebola a lot of things run through the person’s mind from denial,” Dr Leonard Okonkwo a clinical psychologist at LASUTH told CNBC Africa. 

The Ebola virus is said to have a death rate of up to 90 percent.  With the virus not having a definite cure expect for the recently unapproved vaccine, ZMAPP, in the US it is vital to know that anyone diagnosed with this virus will go through some psychological issues. 

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“Denial is one of the natural responses that is expected from someone who is passing through a traumatic experience. The confirmation of someone having Ebola is bound to be a traumatic experience; denial is the very first stage in phases of grief that an individual is likely to pass through.”  

“The first stage to experience is denial of contacting the virus and then the next stage you are likely to experience is anger-why should it be me, what did I do wrong? Am I the only one? Then the next stage will likely be a bargaining stage where if there was anything one could do, they will start to look for what to do in order to save themselves from that situation.”

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Okonkwo added that the next stage would be depression and lastly, acceptance. It takes time, it can be up to two weeks before this whole circle occurs and it is something that can keep going round and round. 

Having the fear of death is a very strong reason people go through these psychological stages. Also people are not well informed about the virus as the only information they have is that once Ebola is contracted they will surely die. However, this is not completely true because there have been some survivors especially if the virus is detected on time.

“There is a lot of wrong information about Ebola. Ebola is not a death sentence and the fact that one is positive with Ebola does not mean the person will die. At the last stage of Ebola the mortality rate is 90 per cent but once it is detected on time like the cases that we have then the people stand a 70 per cent chance of living. The mortality rate goes down to as low as 30 per cent from what we are told.”