Of course, an event of this magnitude cannot but affect our psychological state: forced isolation, the inability to do many familiar things and see life with friends and family, news of an increase in the number of infected and dead, fear for ourselves and loved ones cause anxiety and stress even in those who do not experience them the rest of the time.
It is already clear today that COVID-19 will greatly change the world and our future: a large-scale economic crisis and changes in the labor market await us, perhaps we will reconsider how our relations are built (many of them have moved to a format at a distance, even if partners live in one city) and we will look at the work of doctors with new respect. Without a doubt, the pandemic will change us as well: we will come out of self-isolation as different people.
“Presently isolate will show who is a genuine contemplative person and who was simply flaunting”, “When notably, your typical way of life is called isolation” – jokes that many are agreeable without customary correspondence with individuals go on the Internet from the earliest starting point of the self-disconnection system. Yet, the way that an individual speaks with few individuals doesn’t imply that he needn’t bother with correspondence on a fundamental level. Besides, coercive restrictive measures are not at all like a voluntary desire to sit at home alone. The second is easy to interrupt at any time, and the lack of impressions can be compensated for by a walk or a hike to your favorite place – and the very possibility of doing this greatly changes the feeling of the situation.
Regardless of whether a person lives alone, with a family, a partner, or young children, most likely, he or she already feels the consequences of restrictions. The situation when a huge number of people all over the world find themselves locked in their homes is not very similar to other forms of isolation that are more usual for “peacetime” times. Yet, here it is troublesome not to draw matches – with cosmonauts, laborers at polar stations, previous detainees, and others who for quite a while have been compelled to limit travel and contacts.
A well-known example of isolation is workers at polar stations. The researchers found that many of them experience insomnia, depression, irritability, decreased cognitive abilities, and the person becomes more withdrawn. Professional help in such cases is rarely required, but the researchers emphasize that we are talking about a group of people whose condition is checked quite often. True, it is not worth associating the psychological state of polar explorers with isolation alone: experts also associate it with the seasonal affective disorder – polar explorers have been in harsh conditions for a long time and face a lack of light.
Obviously, isolation and the polar station are more outrageous conditions than the vast majority experience in self-detachment. And yet research into the psychological effects of epidemics and quarantine measures on people suggests that the experience can indeed be traumatic and could cause PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder caused when a person is faced with a difficult, stressful, and scary event. Events can be very different – for example, an attack, an accident, an illness, or difficult birth. In PTSD, the person returns to the painful event over and over again through flashbacks or nightmares. Of course, not everyone who is faced with quarantine measures will develop PTSD – moreover, a pandemic, unlike, for example, a large-scale fire or catastrophe, does not fall under the formal criteria of this diagnosis. Symptoms or signs of a particular disorder or depression do not mean that a person can be diagnosed. And nevertheless, it is becoming more difficult every day to deny that what is happening is a traumatic event for both individuals and society as a whole. People with mental disabilities and mental disorders may face the fact that the current stressful situation will seriously worsen their condition: anxiety and depression can be exacerbated by stress.