Social isolation over mental health and possible means of therapy

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For most of us the world has turned upside down and inside out and everything has taken the wrong turn somewhere. The coronavirus came much unexpected, and most people still can’t accept that he is not some plot in a blockbuster waiting for a happy ending with a great and possibly romantic twist. Romance and greatness cannot be promised, however, a happy ending is unavoidable, because humankind has seen lot worst in its history, however, that was not covered by the media as well as coronavirus is!

What everybody did is listened to their governments, and stayed home, and most probably this is the only way to slow down the spread of the virus and give good people time to come up with a vaccine or cure, or a way of treatment. We have socially distanced ourselves, and normally this will affect all of us, some worse than the others!

Every fourth person in the world will experience some mental health problems in their life course, and self-isolation is like a catalyst, it might speed the growth of mental problems, and in some cases be the main reason. Loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health, and causes more damage than smoking 15 cigarettes per day!

The whole situation is difficult for most but is a real and huge problem for those already suffering one or more mental disorders. Over 450 million people are suffering some mental disorders, and most of them are dealing just fine with proper anti-depression medications and therapy. And then coronavirus happened, and changed a lot in the everyday life of these people, increasing the effects of anxiety and depression. What makes it even more difficult is the inability to visit their therapists, because just like many other people, therapists also self-isolated themselves.

As if depression and anxiety are not hard enough, loneliness and self-isolation increase the risk of premature death, and it is called “social recession”, having an unwanted physical and psychological effect on overall health. Proper socialized people show less inflammation, analog to self-isolated people who have shown increased inflammation and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases like blood pressure, increased heart rate and circulated stress hormones. However, experts do agree that short-term isolation would not cause any of these problems, at least not if you are not undergoing some already existing chronic condition. On the other side, people with existing conditions will feel increased symptoms and should seek medical assistance if necessary.

There is also a huge difference between loneliness and social isolation. Loneliness exists from the beginning of mankind, and can be active or chronic, and can be caused by many factors, economic, social, and you can feel lonely even when surrounded by people. Social isolation is different and means separation from people and the environment, willingly or enforced, as is the case caused by the coronavirus, and both of them are just as dangerous to your health. Often loneliness leads to social isolation and vice versa!

Prolonged loneliness or social isolation can lead to various mental health problems, depression, anxiety, cognitive development at the young population, and can even lead to poor physical health habits. All these symptoms can make people feel that taking care of themselves is not needed, and can suffer disorders in eating and hygiene habits, and can have difficulties sleeping, and can also even lead to suicidal thoughts or behavior.

In these difficult times, it is important more than ever to seek help from professionals, which at this particular time when self-isolation is enforced upon you can be quite challenging. If you experience any symptoms of loneliness or social isolation, like mild depression or anxiety, or worse, you should consult a therapist. Even if you find a way to visit one, and the therapist is willing to see you eye to eye, finances can always be an additional problem. Luckily, in the modern age that we live in, you can have an online consult, and you will see that this kind of consult can be much cheaper and in many ways more convenient for you to deal with. An online counselor may ask you to write down your feelings and/or problems in an e-mail and send them to him/her, and then they will have time to examine your case and write you back or talk about it during online therapy. Even better, the cost is significantly lower if you visit group therapy, which is available for most cases via online conference therapies. Lately, a lot of insurance companies do cover online consults, which depending on your condition, can be very helpful!

Even in case if you feel you do not need therapy or consult, you can make the time being self-isolated more comfortable and easy to deal with. You should contact more people, online or by phone, using face to face contact, not just using social media and look into how others deal with the situation. Do more productive things don’t get caught up in the corona whirlpool, clean the house, and arrange your bookshelves, read the book you never had time to read. Hang with your pet, studies have shown that people who have pets are dealing with self-isolation much better because petting your pets increases dopamine and serotonin which will stabilize mood and relieve stress. When the time is good, go for a long walk, be your friend, and reach to your close ones, they might also feel discomfort because of the whole situation, and try to make them laugh, don’t lose your sense of humor. In a short time, the pandemic will surely be over, what remains is how we helped to ease the way.

In the end, don’t forget the most important thing, which is to follow the recommendations from your government and medical experts, which are staying at home, and help everybody deal with the coronavirus as painless as possible.

References:

1. https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-and-mental-health-we-are-not-made-for-social-isolation/a-52971173

2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/18/coronavirus-isolation-social-recession-physical-mental-health

3. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/05/ce-corner-isolation

4. https://epha.org/the-dangers-of-social-isolation-during-a-pandemic/

5. https://www.aginglifecarejournal.org/health-effects-of-social-isolation-and-loneliness/

6. https://www.noisolation.com/global/research/how-does-social-isolation-affect-a-childs-mental-health-and-development/

7. https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/can-i-afford-to-see-a-counselor-how-much-does-therapy-cost/

8. https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/social-distancing-mental-health

9. https://www.victorialifeline.ca/resources/blog/social-isolation-mental-health---why-it's-so-important-to-stay-connected

10. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/coronavirus/mental-health-pandemic-state-route-social-isolation-loneliness

11. https://www3.havering.gov.uk/Documents/Public-health/PH/docs/Mental-Health.pdf

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