COVID19: Self-isolation can affect our mental health

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Post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety are some of the negative effects on Cypriot’s mental health due to their self-quarantine at home in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, say experts.

They argue post-traumatic stress disorder rates increase following the crisis experienced by people due to self-quarantine at home while there will be a rise in anxiety which will worsen during the crisis.

Psychiatrist Simos Kyriakides told CNA that self-isolation at home will have an impact on people due to the increase in stress they will experience.

Self-isolation changes people’s habits and prevents them from carrying out their daily activities some of which could help them release stress.

On the other hand, he said there is also be a problem due to the financial impact of the pandemic.

“We will live days similar to those of the economic crisis of 2013 during which fear was followed by depression, anxiety, and despair due to economic downturn, job loss, wage cuts, economic hardship and so on,” Kyriakides said.

“Some people are already having difficulties and complaining and report symptoms of increased anxiety, most people at some point will start to have difficulties.”

“Restriction is against our nature.”

Kyriakides said that some people will start to show symptoms of anxiety and possibly depression, noting that due to the limited opportunities they have for activities they will not be able to relieve the symptoms of anxiety.

He said that fear exists due to the virus and it will continue to exist for some time but to some extent, fear serves the purpose of staying home which is positive.

He advised the public, as the situation goes on, to find interesting things to do while being at home either alone or with other members of the family.

On whether information helps people to stay calm, Kyriakides said that “it helps us as long as it is well-documented” and not fake news that aims to cause panic.

He urged people to show patience and discipline to government instructions even if they do not agree with the way the state is handling the situation.

Virus stress

Counselling Psychologist and Lecturer at UCLan Cyprus Vassiliki Christodoulou said that during a crisis people are deeply concerned they might become infected themselves or infect their loved ones leading to severe stress.

She said that people will suffer from frustration, anxiety and anger due to restraint, loss of routine and loss of social contact and these feelings worsen as we lose our daily activities.

Christodoulou said that anxiety is also caused by inadequate and incorrect information which can lead to problematic behaviours.

She said people should avoid constantly watching the news urging them to have a plan in getting specific information from a reliable source, warning them at the same time that constant updating on the subject increases anxiety and panic.

She also urged people to help others in need as this seems to be comforting both for the person receiving the help and the one giving it.

Dr Christodoulou said that some people will probably develop a post-traumatic disorder either because of self-isolation or the disease itself.

This appears to be particularly affecting health professionals who may have seen shortages, experienced difficulties and difficult images during times of crisis.

“What we expect to see, according to the literature, is an increase in some kind of post-traumatic disorder.” (source Cyprus News Agency)