The Effect of Quarantine and Social Distancing on Mental Health

Alone man is thinking

With the quick spread of COVID-19 and the proclamation of pandemic, people are making haste to socially distance themselves or even quarantine themselves.

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Sitting in isolation or with a few people at home keeps contact with others limited, and chance of exposure low, but what does this mean for the overall health of the mind? With the closure of businesses and schools, individuals are facing further challenges; children are at home awaiting virtual platforms for school until the remainder of the month, and parents are also working from home or even unsure of their job security. Adults are experiencing financial stress being out of work for extended time, and small businesses do not have the means to support themselves without business. The stress and uncertainty we are all facing can lead to anxiety, depression, and some studies even suggest symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Potential Reactions and Triggers

Due to the overall uncertainty of the situation, it is likely that you may experience

  • Fear
  • Nervousness
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia

These are likely responses to the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty, including financial security or resources. Already, we have been witnesses to major sell-outs in stores for cleaning products and paper products. Even major stores are limiting their hours, and the decision to close these stores entirely are still up in the air. More so, healthcare facilities are filled with patients in need, making the fear of needing help in an already resource-limited environment more evident.

Studies also suggest that these negative emotions can outlast the isolation we experience, leading to symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Individuals may feel highly overwhelmed even after the risk of the virus itself, leading to difficulty returning to normal routine.

How to Handle these Negative Emotions

Talk to someone

Whether you feel comfortable talking through your emotions with family members or a professional, it’s important to discuss what you are feeling. Often, these emotions stem from an uncertainty that may be quelled speaking through it. Even in this time of social distancing or quarantine, telemedicine platforms and other applications can link you with mental health care professionals, giving you an outlet to speak about your concerns before they become long-lasting impacts.

Know your risks

For those who already experience mental health conditions, such as anxiety or chronic depression, these times can be especially hard. Preparing yourself by setting up communication with others or bunkering down in a comfortable environment can help keep negative emotions minimal in this stressful time.

Try to Find the Bright Side

While it may be a bit cliché to recommend you look for a bright side, it may just be the difference in focusing on circumstances outside of your control and refocusing on enjoyable happenings. This may be more time with family or a slight vacation from a busy work schedule. This is a stressful time for everyone and no one can fault you for feeling fear or anxiety at times like these, but there is always an unexpected silver lining to any situation so long as one keeps an open-mind.

Reference Webpage:

APA Reference: Brooks, S., Webster, R., Smith, L., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., &
Rubin, G. (2020) The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of
the evidence. The Lancet, Vol. 395, p.912-920.

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