Side effects of COVID-19 – Psychological implications of quarantine
This contribution was written before Phase 2 of the emergency began
Suddenly our life has changed: the various decrees that have followed have seen us abandon our habits, our routines, our freedom.
What are the psychological effects of COVID-19, or rather of the pandemic? When everything is over, how will the mind react? The risk of a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real! The key word becomes: RESILIENCE.
Advertising message Suddenly, the lives of all of us have changed: a series of Dpcm (Ministerial Decrees of the Prime Minister) have followed since February, with an increasingly restrictive content, going from the epidemic to the pandemic: they told us not to go to work anymore , not to go to school, gradually not to go to the gym again, to no longer go for a run, or to the shopping center, to the little gardens, to no longer meet friends, let alone our loved ones. In this escalation of deprivation we have been told to be FEARED!
For what reason? For what absurd reason should we give up our freedom?
The reason is invisible, a virus that we cannot perceive, but which is reaping many victims all over the world.
And then the top priority has become to preserve the primary good, life. By staying closed at home, going out only for strictly necessary reasons, and with due caution (masks and gloves that have become part of our clothing), the risk of being infected is reduced.
As stated in Article 13 of the Italian Constitution
And art.16 continues
The law has established the limitations, it is not even possible to leave your municipality and to circulate you need to bring a form, a self-certification, yes because if there is no valid reason that justifies our move you will face a fine and you become an outlaw.
Suddenly technology has become our best ally, not that before it was not, forcing even those who were unfamiliar with smartphones, tablets and PCs to become familiar with them, with the common purpose of remaining “connected” with the world. Here then we started working from home with the formula of smart working, the students started to make school by videoconference, we all resorted to video calls to be able to communicate and stay online.
Even psychological-psychotherapeutic therapies take place online …
The eyes are focused on physical health and it is right in an emergency.
But now let’s look at the other side of the coin! What effects does this compulsory enclosure have? What are the psychological effects?
Each of us “was” accustomed to frenetic rhythms, between work, school, family, engagements with friends, hobbies … the days were marked by frenetic rhythms and 24 hours were sometimes even few to meet the many commitments. Suddenly we all had to give up everything: forced home, to live 24 hours a day with our family: no more leisures, no more own spaces, but a single shared space.
In the short term there are those who may have benefited from this disconnected plug, certainly the children, finally at home with mom and dad and no longer rushed between the nest, school and grandparents. The same children who cannot explain and represent this sudden change, who are relegated to their homes, do not understand why they can no longer go out to play, can no longer meet their companions, or go to their grandparents.
We may have all been “happy” to be able to rest a bit … but nobody initially imagined all this, nobody imagined the gravity of the situation and its persistence for so long.
Every day we are bombarded with information and the hope is that we will be told that it is all over and we can finally take back our lives. But no, among often divergent information, old life now seems a distant memory and we are all called to reformulate our priorities and our habits.
So here fear creeps in, because the human mind is afraid of the unknown, the unknown: we rely on what we know because it makes us feel safe, calm, protected, because it allows us to be able to foresee the consequences, giving up exploring what is placed in the shade, what is unknown or little known, precisely because it reduces our ability to predict, act, react.
How will we react once phase 1 is over? From 4 May we will be able to move again and we can’t wait for this to happen, we are pounding, counting the days and hours that separate us from the rebirth, from the reconquest of our spaces.
But as of now, the media daily warn us about the good rules to follow, about things to avoid, about how to behave in the new “digitalized” world: in fact, several hypotheses are being examined on apps that can warn us if we come in contact with possible infected subjects, all respecting privacy.
We are ready? Are we really looking forward to restarting the engines?
Surely there is a need to start again, primarily for economic reasons, given the stalemate in which we are confined.
Advertising message But let’s be ready because the world will not be as we left it: the light-heartedness that until January characterized each of us, has given way to fear. You are afraid to go to the supermarket, you will be afraid to take public transport, you will be afraid to meet a friend, you will be afraid to do anything that was previously automatic. In the near future, all our actions will become reasoned and we will have to learn to live with emotions such as anxiety, anguish, sadness.
The human mind needs adequate time to metabolize events, make sense of them and accept them: COVID-19 certainly represents a trauma for each of us, it has created a fracture between a before and an after. In fact, in the life that we will live the memory will constantly bring us back to the pre-pandemic moments and we will not be able to feel a sense of overwhelm because our ability to self-determination will be severely tested!
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTDS) may develop following exposure to such events. In fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) recognizes among the criteria for the diagnosis how the person must have been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following characteristics were present:
The watchword then becomes RESILIENCE, understood as the ability to cope in a positive way with traumatic and / or stressful events, to positively reorganize one’s life in the face of difficulties, to rebuild oneself while remaining sensitive to the positive opportunities that life offers, without alienating one’s identity, without succumbing.
It is essential not to let ourselves be beaten down by change, but to draw from it for future life.
Here then the slogan “WILL BE ALL GOOD”, which we repeated as a mantra will have beneficial effects: we must believe it! Then yes it will be all right!