A recent article in JAMA (a medical journal) addresses the problems experienced by people during the current “shut down.” The article further recognizes that the toll of depression and anxiety will be worse on people with a history of depression or anxiety.
At some point this imposition or self-imposed isolation will end. We have all been “cocooning.” What will it look like when we emerge? Will we be beautiful butterflies in a wonderful garden?
What will this post-coronavirus world look like? No one knows for sure what the future holds, but we do know what often occurs with the long-term effects of stress, isolation and negative information overload. The toll these effects take on both mind and body is yet to be determined, but you can be assured it will be plentiful.
Here are some of my thoughts:
Many are already reporting increased depression and anxiety. Being isolated, bombarded with bad news and fear of an often-lethal virus creates significant stress. These are unintentional torture strategies. While I do not believe it is anyone’s intention to torture us, isolation and negative statements over time will see the same results as if we had spent days and weeks imprisoned. This is further compounded by the fact that many of us have been unable to take advantage of coping strategies, such as socialization, exercise and religious support.
We are all suffering the effects of the loss of our daily lives and routine. It is a grieving process just as we would mourn the death of a loved one; we struggle to mourn the loss of our lives as they once were. It is only after acceptance of the loss that we can move on and begin to think about the new “normal” or new life we are likely to have.
This new normal, or life in the post-quarantine world, will not be easy for all to assume. If one has the expectation of being able to “bounce back,” you are likely to feel disappointed and wonder what is wrong. The expectation that things will return to normal and everyone will be okay is not realistic. More realistic are expectations of ongoing struggle and adapting concerns. Thinking you are supposed to breeze through this transition can lead to disappointment and increased self-doubt. Unrealistic expectations cause people to beat themselves up and perceive themselves as personal failures because they have not met these expectations. Recognizing realistic expectations and being okay with struggling is important to diminish depression and anxiety.
Remember, we will all have holes to dig out from when this ends. We will all have to redo our lives and rethink how we live and interact. But this is an opportunity for a healthier restart. Begin now to develop healthier habits. Find a way to exercise. Reach out to family and friends. Breathe!
If you are struggling now, or when you remerge from quarantine, reach out for help. Here at KWC we are uniquely experienced at providing services both in-person and remotely, which allows us to be of help to you now and in the future. Call 855-KET-WELL and start to feel better today!
Dr. Ellen Diamond is the Clinical Psychologist for Ketamine Wellness Centers