At this time, both in Spain and the rest of the world is under a State of Alarm regime decreed by the different governments due to the strong health crisis caused by the coronavirus that is affecting globally. This State of Alarm establishes the mandatory quarantine of all citizens, but what is quarantine? ‘ Quarantine ‘, in medical jargon, is a term used to describe the isolation of people for a non-specific period of time as a method of avoiding or limiting the risk of spreading a disease or plague .
This forced isolation from society is becoming an important factor in the emergence of stress disorders in the population . And it is that the psychological impact that a quarantine stage brings is not a few things since in people who are in isolation it is very easy for anguish or certain psychological problems to appear such as insomnia, low mood, irritability, emotional exhaustion …
In addition, when the quarantine has been established due to having been in contact with someone who does suffer from the disease, negative thoughts such as fear, nervousness or a strong feeling of guilt may begin to arise . This is such that a very important emotional imbalance can occur in families since it creates trauma for parents, while children are left with post-traumatic stress until several months after this ends.
In addition, it should be noted that after the quarantine period, people who previously suffered from a psychological disorder may adopt avoidance behaviors (avoid people who cough or sneeze, avoid closed places and even public spaces in which weeks after quarantine, etc.) 4 to 6 months after this situation , which leads to changes in normal behaviors .
However, in the case of health personnel or those who have been in close contact with those infected with coronavirus , the symptoms after this period are much more serious. It appears anger, anger, frustration, guilt, nervousness and sadness deep , which makes these people be much less emotionally stable once the quarantine. In addition, it is very common that they constantly think that they are infected and, therefore, they will infect their loved ones even though it is impossible to do so.
Stressors during isolation
- The duration : the longer the quarantine, the worse mental health the population will have after it.
- The fear of infection : the fear of infection itself and that of loved ones develops extreme worry when experiencing symptoms similar or related to the disease. This great concern mostly affects pregnant women or women with children.
- Frustration and boredom : the loss of daily routine coupled with little social and physical contact lead to a constant state of boredom and frustration as we experience a sense of isolation from the world, which causes us a horrible anguish that increases as we We realize that we cannot do basic activities like shopping or participating in social activities.
- Lack of supplies : Having few basic supplies increases distress and causes great frustration and anger that can last up to 6 months after confinement. In addition, the sum of not being able to attend medical appointments also contributes to the growth of this anguish.
- Inadequate information : the scarce and contradictory information that can be accessed through the media and the Internet represents an increase in the stress levels of the population since they create great confusion.
Stressors after isolation
- The economy : financial loss is a problem that exists both during and after the quarantine period . Economic losses cause socioeconomic distress, being an important factor in causing psychological problems related to anxiety or anger . People with a low annual income are the most affected by the quarantine. All this means that there are high levels of post-traumatic stress and depression, especially in the self-employed, the severely affected, so they need more support.
- Stigmas on the part of society : having been in quarantine can cause stigmas that surround those who have been in isolation, especially if they have been carriers of the disease or have suffered any symptoms, since after quarantine they are keep trying differently.
That is why a general education about the epidemic can be very beneficial in reducing stigma . The mass media have a great power of influence in society and it is proven that the so-called “propaganda of fear” carried out by some media only contributes to a greater stigmatization of society, being able to create awareness to the contrary.
What to do to reduce the psychological impact of quarantine?
- Maintain a quarantine period as short as possible within the security of the nation.
- Make truthful and concrete information available to all citizens , giving priority to those that determine the problem and the reasons why society extends, or not, the period of isolation.
- Provide adequate supplies without running out of them , establishing requirements at the time of purchase.
- Reduce boredom and improve available communication channels . Boredom and isolation will cause distress. People in quarantine should be informed about what they can do to avoid boredom and practical advice on stress management and control techniques.
- Pay special attention to those workers who are exposed in the front line to the virus (health workers, transporters, workers of first necessity …)
Having said all this, if the psychological impact caused by quarantine is great, the psychological impact caused by not having established it would be much greater . So we all agree that quarantine is necessary, so we must reduce the psychological impact it causes on society in some way. It should be the government who, through the implementation of the correct government measures, is in charge of reducing this impact.