Psychological and emotional repercussions of the Pandemic
The pandemic that we have witnessed in recent months, more or less aware of what was happening, more or less declared, sometimes fabled by proclamations and theories of science fiction films, has obviously been the subject of various and numerous disquisitions and speculations under various points of view, one of which is precisely the psychological one related to the potential emotional and psycho-social consequences of the disease and the consequent quarantine that has imposed on many people forced isolation or alternatively a coercive form of continuous cohabitation.
According to a survey conducted by the Piepoli Institute and commissioned by the National Council of the Order of Psychologists , since the lockdown began, 63% of Italians have suffered from symptoms such as insomnia, headache, stomach ache, anxiety, panic and depression and defines himself as “very or fairly stressed”, while 43% are aware of living in “a maximum level of stress”.
These psychopathological experiences and states can be caused or exacerbated by various contextual factors, such as:
- social and emotional isolation ,
- the sudden change in one’s life habits,
- suspension or even job loss,
- the precariousness and uncertainty of the future,
- fear for oneself and loved ones,
- deprivation of liberty.
Social and emotional isolation in particular may have produced feelings of loneliness and panic , that is, fear of not being able to do it alone with one’s own resources.
This also depends in part on the contemporary being hyper-connected and always “on the net”, in relation to someone, with many more or less significant someone. This situation is likely that, in many people, contributed to produce or foment anxieties of contagion and hypochondriac : the need to protect and protect oneself can become, in fact, from a containment tool to a pathological form .
Being suddenly alone and closed at home, perhaps with family members or partners who are not always good travel companions, can in fact generate a sense of constraint and anxiety that is a real fear of meeting oneself.
On the other hand, for some people this imposed state of isolation was a very useful opportunity to get back in touch with themselves and their closest affections, with whom very often they shared only a few reduced and frenetic physical and temporal spaces.
Some learned to appreciate silence, contact with nature and the return to long-forgotten or neglected passions and hobbies. In such cases it was possible for these people to seize the opportunity given by the change immediately and unwanted, transforming the loss and disruption of their habits into opportunities for growth and renewal.
The economic crisis, the lack of work, the economic uncertainty with the accounts that pile up on the table, can create real panic and extreme depressive states; a separate chapter is represented by the impossibility of carrying out one’s work commitment, as one was accustomed to doing, but through new ways such as smartworking often carried out without precise and clear rules or in environments such as noisy and distracting households.
The children were mainly affected by social isolation , by having to give up seeing their peers in the park or kindergarten or school as they were used to. They were also influenced in various ways by the change in habits (for example, seeing parents always at home, distance learning, etc.) and by the perception of the mood of the parents , if they were, for example, anxious or distressed , even the children may have been affected. I believe that at least with the older ones it is useful to be able to speak and explain with clear and simple words what is happening and has happened, reassuring them.
How can we overcome the negative moods associated with the pandemic?
I believe that it is important first of all to become aware and to be able to limit the feelings, emotions and moods caused and in relation to the extraordinary event in which we have been involved.
Understand what we feel in the face of our fragility and the inevitability of disease and death, without being overwhelmed and upset by it; get in touch with the fear of economic and job insecurity and be able to find the resources for new growth and development or change opportunities in the professional and work environment; finally understand the emotions and feelings that affect our relationship , upset and even reversed by the pandemic and isolation.
Being able to make explicit what you feel, so that you can elaborate and highlight your resources, from which to start again. It is important to ask for help, the help of a friend, a family member but also the help of an expert who can help us face the loss of certain certainties and create new ones.
Reflecting on one’s mood, on the relational dynamics set before the lockdown and the consequent changes it has imposed , can finally be useful in becoming more aware of its functioning, also identifying any aspects of unease or dystonia that can be taken into consideration and changed.
By this I mean that if for example before the pandemic there was a tendency to fill up with commitments , necessary conditions to “pass the time”, in order not to be alone, due to the isolation and the stop of many activities, there could be find yourself in a position to reflect, to make contact with yourself, with your own feelings, often hidden or denied.
It is a return in itself, within itself, from which to start, renew, find oneself and resume the journey of one’s existence.