Long-term Social Distancing Could Be Traumatic, According to Doctors

Long-term Social Distancing Could Be Traumatic, According to Doctors

Occasions such as church and concerts that would usually spark large social gatherings have now been reduced to virtual streamings, with spectators forced to view them from home as quarantine and social distancing orders are now the world’s new normal. For some, this could result in trauma and stress.

According to CNN, Health psychologist, Dr. Dana Garfin, says that extended periods of isolation and stress from the coronavirus pandemic can affect everyone differently. The pandemic could put a strain on families, find children in abusive home situations, and cause those who are living alone to feel isolated. Also, those who are currently out of work could begin to question their sense of purpose, Garfin explained.

Families staying at home together through the pandemic can be considered a collective trauma, explained Garfin. Collective traumas begin at some point of impact and are then distributed down to loved ones of the afflicted. Prolonged exposure to the traumas of coronavirus can activate the fight or flight response, which over time, can cause more serious issues such as cardiovascular problems, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Mental health experts also agree that lack of in-person socializing, especially if one is accustomed to it, can bring about feelings of anger, depression, anxiety, and even grief in some cases.

“There is literal grief like losing loved ones,” Dr. Vaile Wright, the American Psychological Association’s director of clinical research and quality, revealed. “But there is a grief of experiences that we are losing right now. There can feel like there is a lot of loss right now, a loss of freedom, a lot of things we took for granted.”

Wright reveals that the importance of realizing that despite the circumstances, none of this is any of our faults.

“I think that we need to recognize that this is totally unprecedented, and we really are just doing the best we can, and that’s OK,” Wright reassures.

Wright says that it is important to create a new at-home routine that includes showering, getting dressed, and maintaining family meals as opposed to treating the time off like a vacation of sorts.

Financial instability during the pandemic also creates added stress, says Dr. Baruch Fischhoff, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University. Since Americans aren’t partaking in their normal routines, restructuring those daily habits could prove difficult.

“We necessarily run much of our lives by habit,” said Fischhoff. “We know what we have for breakfast; we know how to prepare the kids for school, and that enables us to get through the day reasonably well.”

All three doctors stress the use of social media as a great tool to remain social but warns not to take in too much coronavirus information, which is oftentimes conflicting.

Garfin also suggests thinking of quarantine as a team effort, something that we are all experiencing collectively in the world.

“We aren’t in our houses alone; we are doing something for each other for our community. It’s a shared effort, something that we are all a part of and something we are all contributing to. It’s going to be difficult, but it’s not permanent.”

The Effects of Social Distancing

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