Psychology Today

A Guide to Tackle the Psychological Impacts of Covid19 Quarantine

The Covid19 pandemic is a matter of grave concern for all the nations in the world. It has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition to this, the outbreak is creating international anxiety among people due to its fast and alarming rate of transmission. However, the psychological impacts of Covid19 are also dangerous and they must be safely tackled.

Everyone ranging from ordinary people to health workers is at risk of contracting this virus from an infectious source. Analysis of this situation led governments to recommend, or in some cases, enforce a quarantine in different forms of lockdown. According to scholars, “Quarantine” is not a cure to the disease but actually a restriction of movement that is imposed on people who are likely to have been exposed to a virus, and it is done in order to ascertain if their health further exacerbates (Mark A. Rothstein, 2003). 

Quarantines as a Precaution for Covid19

Fundamentally, quarantine cannot be considered as a solution to stop a spreading virus. However, it is used as a safety precaution to prevent the rapid spreading of viruses especially in the case of pandemics. Governments have either placed people under mass quarantine or they have directed people to go in self-isolation. As a result of this, people have been in quarantine for the past 2-3 months and experiencing some alarming psychological impacts.

Psychological Impacts on People

Although quarantine and isolation are two different worlds, the general public assumes it as the same thing. Quarantine protects you from physical illness as you are restricted to a controlled environment but long-lasting quarantine can bring devastating psychological impacts as well. Long restricted environment and social distancing create psychological disturbance including:

  1. Stress
  2. Confusion
  3. Anger

These psychological impacts come as a result of loneliness, boredom, fear of food security, social dilemma, and the paradox of information.

Impact on a Person’s Financial Situation

Psychological impacts of Covid19 quarantines also bring in many financial losses due to the fact that a person locked up in their room is unable to work effectively even if they have the choice of working from home. This brings a disruption of daily routine tasks that were supposed to be performed by the individual along with even more frustration on this fact that individuals cannot interact and socialize with their family or loved ones due to precautionary measures. Humans are social animals and have their own sets of gratification varying from person to person hence any hindrance in the fulfillment of those needs brings in a set of psychological backlashes.

Misinformation and Fake Rumors

With the current age of internet and digital media, the influx of information through various channels brings even more confusion leading to misinformation and fake rumors regarding Corona Virus. A quarantined person who is already suffering from fatigue gets more upset and scared because in this controlled environment the individual is being exposed to more and more data pertaining to the virus.

When the connection with the outside world is completely virtual in nature the virtual culture brings its own set of issues. Virtual cultures can be referred to as socially communicative units that sufficiently foster relational growth and participation in an environment of cyberspace. The building of social networks, transmission of knowledge and information, and the facilitation of democratic modes are all sub-characteristics that form under the network of virtual cultures through which a person under quarantine has to go through. These are also considered to be dangerous psychological impacts of Covid19.

Duration of COVID 19 Quarantine

In a Comparative approach of Corona Virus with other epidemics and pandemics we can deduce the conclusion that although quarantine is a necessary preventive measure against any such outbreak the post-traumatic symptoms are the same for any such situation that has occurred in the past, for example, a study suggests that duration of any quarantine exceeding ten days brings in more symptoms of stress and fatigue along with other psychological imbalances (Hawryluck, 2004). Any Quarantine isolates people who have been possibly exposed to an infection and in this manner, they are separated from other healthy people which might contract the virus.

Psychologically a person residing in isolation is subject to substantial mental and budgetary issues which in the long run add a great cost to the national exchequer of the respective government. The segregation will not only bring the impacts while the quarantine is in place, but it will also have its brief aftermath in the form of prevailing psychological imbalances. Individuals who are restricted in quarantine are often subject to fear of being infected or play a role in infecting others. They can also show signs of any physical symptoms experienced during the duration of the quarantine itself. This fear is a common occurrence for people exposed to a worrying infectious disease (Rubin, 2016).

The impacts are surprisingly not limited to only the general public but a bigger victim of this social stigma are the health care professionals that are at a greater risk of being exposed to the virus along with working round the clock which creates even more fatigue due to restlessness. Since the duration of quarantine cannot be determined beforehand it is especially necessary to take necessary precautions so that the psychological impacts don’t overcome to the point where they might damage the physical health as well such as overthinking, depression and fatigue leads to weakness, sleeplessness. 

Tackling the Psychological Impacts

The ways in which such psychological impacts are dealt have somewhat remained the same throughout the course of past epidemics and pandemics. The suggested remedies against being a victim of psychological stress and mental illness are pinpointed by the World Health Organization (WHO)

Being Caring and Empathetic

Studies suggest that being empathetic to those who are affected by the virus can go a long way in tackling the psychological impacts of this quarantine. This is a general humanitarian ethic that must be incorporated among people.

Find a Trusted Source of Information

It also recommended to seek and explore information updates on coronavirus from trusted, verified, and authentic sources only and at set times once or twice a day and not more than that since the constant stream of information can also cause more mental health issues.

Detailed research on psychological impacts of coronavirus is explained by the medical journal of The Lancet which is derived from multiple research journals and articles, it suggests that firstly it is important to try best to keep the duration of quarantine as short as possible to avoid any major health concerns along with providing people in quarantine only validated and trusted information and refraining from the viral trend of dissemination of fake news.

Provision of Food and Supplies

Another key factor in keeping the mental health intact is providing necessary and basic supplies of food, medicines, and households to the person restricted inside a place and also provide them with necessary social networking gadgets to communicate with the outside world that will play a focal role in eliminating and removing boredom which can otherwise make them socially deprived.

Monitoring Your Health Throughout

Being your own judge and monitoring your own health is also very effective as you get to keep a track of how you are dealing with the situation. If severe symptoms of Corona Virus occur then you can take necessary actions and if you feel healthy then you need to take extra precaution so that you yourself don’t become another carrier of this virus (Samantha K Brooks, 2020).

It is to note here especially that health care workers should take extra precautions to tackle psychological impacts of Corona quarantine as they are the core working body in times of such pandemics, the whole community depends on them and as long as a vaccine or tested cure is not determined, they are the only hope which people are looking up to.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we can claim that the psychological impacts of Covid19 are a reality and can constitute a bigger problem but they can be dealt with just like impacts of quarantine of other pandemics are dealt. So while we have to stay in quarantine, it is time that we do healthy activities like reading, exercise, and indoor games that help us deviate our constant attention from the ongoing crisis.

References

Hawryluck, L. G. (2004). SARS control and psychological effects of quarantine. Toronto, Canada: Emerging Infectious Diseases, 10(7), 1206.

Mark A. Rothstein, J. D. (2003). QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION:LESSONS LEARNED FROM SARS. 

Rubin, G. J. (2016). How to support staff deploying on overseas humanitarian work: a qualitative analysis of responder views about the 2014/15 West African Ebola outbreak. European journal of psychotraumatology, 7(1), 30933.

Samantha K Brooks, P. K. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet .

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