Self-isolation can affect our mental health, experts tell CNA

Post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety are some of the negative effects on people`s mental health due to their self-quarantine at home in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, according to mental health professionals who spoke to Cyprus News Agency.

As they said, post-traumatic stress disorder rates will be increased following the crisis experienced by people due to self-quarantine at home while there will be a rise in anxiety which will further worsen in the course of the crisis.

Asked if there are safe conclusions on how and to what extent will people’s mental health be affected by the current situation, psychiatrist Simos Kyriakides told CNA that self-isolation at home will have an impact on people, noting that people are likely to go to the extremes due to the increase in stress which will worsen in the course of the crisis.

As he said self-isolation changes people`s habits and prevents them from carrying out their daily activities some of which could help them in releasing stress.

On the other hand, he said there would 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, he said.

Asked whether we will see people reaching to extremes, exaggeration and hysteria due to self-isolation, Kyriakides said that it is possible to reach the extremes, since some people are already having difficulties and complaining and report symptoms of an increase in anxiety, noting that most people from one point on will start to have difficulties.

There may be some people getting used to some aspects of self-isolation and restriction, but most people will start having difficulties from one point onwards, he said. “Restriction is against our nature” he noted.

Responding to a question about people`s reactions to self-isolation, Kyriakides said that some people would 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 mainly relieve the symptoms of anxiety.

Asked how should we act to reduce behaviors of fear, panic and hysteria, Kyriakides said that fear exists due to the virus and it will continue to exist for some time.

He added that to some extent fear serves the purpose of staying home describing this as something positive.

However, he noted, along the way people should be informed by the authorities that there would be no shortages of essential goods and that the restriction would not be so great that one would not be able to get out of his house in order for citizens to be reassured and stop panicking to some degree.

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.

Asked whether information helps people to stay calm, Kyriakidis said that “it helps us as long as it is well-documented” noting that information is a relevant thing nowadays because of social media where one can see a lot of fake news that aims to cause panic.

He said that if the information comes from the right sources then it is useful.

He finally urged people to show patience and discipline to the state`s instructions even if they do not agree with the way the state handles the situation as it is the only way out of this situation.

Speaking to CNA, Counseling Psychologist and Lecturer at Uclan Cyprus Vassiliki Christodoulou said that during crisis people are deeply concerned that might become infected themselves or infect their loved ones as this is leading them to experience severe stress.

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

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

Referring to the things that people can do to keep themselves calm, she said that they 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.

Asked about the next day of self-isolation and whether the rate of people suffering from depression will increase, Dr Christodoulou said that some people would probably develop a post traumatic disorder either because of self-isolation or the disease itself.

In addition, she said this appears to be particularly affecting health professionals, who may have seen some images of shortages, difficulties and difficult images during times of crisis.

She said that this situation may particularly affect health professionals who might have seen some images of shortages, difficulties, 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,” Dr. Christodoulou concludes.

Source: Cyprus News Agency