The entire world is being faced with a global pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 — the disease that results from the novel coronavirus, a worldwide pandemic.
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are very distinct differences between an outbreak, epidemic, and pandemic. A pandemic (which is what is happening now) is an epidemic that’s spread over several countries or continents and affects a large percent of the population.
Constant coverage has raised panic levels around the globe. We will leave it to other news sources to cover the stat’s and the prevention techniques from the actual virus itself. That information is everywhere. Today, we’re talking about how protect your mental heath and cope through a pandemic and quarantine. The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming at times and cause strong emotions in people of all ages.
Corona virus outbreak has led people to engage in social distancing to help “flatten the curve,” or contain the spread of the illness to help keep infection rates as low as possible. The (CDC) defines quarantine as separating and restricting the movement of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they then become ill. Quarantining yourself at home is vital in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. That said, coping with the disruption in your normal routine can be challenging. Taking care of your mental health is important.
The American Psychological Association reports that social isolation carries several health risks. Quarantine can take a serious mental toll in three key elements of mental health: autonomy, competency, and connectedness.
A 2019 review in The Lancet analyzed the results of past studies to get a better idea of how COVID-19 may impact those who are quarantined. The review found that psychological distress is common both during and after periods of quarantine. People commonly experienced:
- Post-traumatic stress symptoms
- Depressive symptoms
- Low mood
- Emotional disturbance
- Emotional exhaustion
Additionally, according to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration here is what to expect as a result to anxiety, worry, or fear related to:
- Your own health status and the health status of others
- The experience of monitoring yourself, or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of the disease
- Time taken off from work and the potential loss of income and job security
- The challenges of securing things you need, such as groceries and personal care items
- Concern about being able to effectively care for children or others in your care
- Uncertainty or frustration about how long you will need to remain in this situation, and uncertainty about the future
- Loneliness associated with feeling cut off from the world and from loved ones
- Anger if you think you were exposed to the disease because of others’ negligence
- Boredom and frustration because you may not be able to work or engage in regular day-to-day activities
- Uncertainty or ambivalence about the situation
- A desire to use alcohol or drugs to cope
- Symptoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite, or sleeping
People will react in various ways and to varying degrees. According to VeryWellMinded.com, factors that influence coping include:
Your Current Mental Health: Previously existing mental health conditions, including depressive and anxiety disorders, can also impact an individual’s ability to cope.
How You Deal with Stress: If you tend to be resilient in the face of stress, you may have coping skills that will allow you to manage being quarantined without many negative effects.
Your Personality: Personality differences might influence how you cope. Extroverts, for example, may struggle more with the feelings of loneliness that isolation brings. Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing, so they may cope well during quarantine—at least for a time.
How Long You Are in Quarantine: The longer restrictions last, the more pronounced the effects are.
According to the CDC, People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
How to Cope During A Quarantine with help from the American Psychological Association:
- Limit news consumption to reliable sources: It’s important to get accurate and timely public health information regarding COVID-19, but too much exposure to media coverage of the virus can lead to increased feelings of fear and anxiety. Psychologists recommend balancing time spent on news and social media with other activities unrelated to quarantine or isolation, such as reading, listening to music or learning a new language.
- Create and follow a daily routine: Maintaining a daily routine can help both adults and children preserve a sense of order and purpose in their lives despite the unfamiliarity of isolation and quarantine. Try to include regular daily activities, such as work, exercise or learning, even if they must be done remotely.
- Stay virtually connected with others: Your face-to-face interactions may be limited, but psychologists suggest using phone calls, text messages, video chat and social media to access social support networks.
- Relying on pets for emotional support is another way to stay connected.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Get enough sleep, eat well and exercise in your home. Consider telehealth options for psychotherapy.
- Use psychological strategies to manage stress and stay positive: Try not to catastrophize. Instead focus on what you can do and accept the things you can’t change.
- Focusing on the altruistic reasons for social distancing.
Things for parents to keep in mind:
According to the CDC, children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.
There are many things you can do to support your child:
- Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Reassure your child or teen that they are safe.
- Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media.
- Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
- Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
Finding ways to protect your mental health when you are in quarantine is important since research has shown that this type of brief isolation can potentially have several detrimental effects.
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)