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Effects of Isolation on mental health

Living in the midst of a pandemic has brought on issues that we never had to deal with before . Covid has taken a toll on us and everyone is facing great distress and irritability . Though people are scared and panicking , the ones suffering from the disease itself are not just physically affected but are also suffering mentally .

One such thing that is triggering in itself , is ISOLATION .

Isolation is setting apart people who have a contagious disease , from the healthy part / population . It is one of the measures taken to implement infection control and prevent communicable diseases from being transmitted (from a patient to other patients, health care workers, and visitors, or from outsiders to a particular patient) . So basically , in a detected case of covid-19 , the person can be isolated at home in a separate room or in a Covid hospital ward . Either way , it restricts the movement of the patient and also cuts them off from their family and friends .
Isolation is an important feature for containing the disease and better treatment of the patient . Though physically helpful , it can negatively affect the mental health of the patient .

People in isolation develop stress due to various aspects happening to them and in their surroundings like,
Feeling of being unwell and sick ,
Fear of further deterioration of health ,
Panic due to misleading information and negative news ,
Not being able to see their family ,
Death of a family member ,
Loss of job or income
Unavailability of resources ,
And there are many more to add to this list .

Living away from family when the person is used to living in a house full of people or , living away from people you are used to living with ,comes with a feeling of helplessness . Being physically drained adds to this fear . In case of symptoms like fatigue and nausea also , patients might feel stressed by misunderstanding it for shortness of breath or being unable to breathe . So living alone in isolation comes with its own challenges .

In the initial days of isolation , patients have strength and hope to get better soon , but with the increasing time into isolation they become anxious . They might as well develop anxiety disorders . This can escalate soon to depression and suicidal thoughts . The reason for it being unable to share thoughts or talk to someone . Obviously , phone calls , video calls , chats with family and friends can be helpful but that might not always be a feasible medium to share thoughts and have conversations due to lack of network connectivity , isolated other members of the family , covid stigma and much more .
There is another thing that causes anxious thoughts to curtain the mind of the patient , that is the lack of work to do . House chores or even study seems difficult in active covid infection due to loss of appetite , fatigue and loss of weight .

Anxiety and overthinking may lead to conscious breathing , irritability and can be mistaken as gasping for breath due to decreased oxygen levels .

In these situations , people who check on news constantly and frequently develop the feeling of fear and stress more often than others .

While suffering from any disease , it is of prime importance to get 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep . Sleep acts as a refresh button to help start the coming day with a new refreshment . It is said that “A good night’s sleep is a bridge between despair and hope.” But during the course of the disease , the patient suffers from fear , anxiety as well as intrusive thoughts that disturb sleep . So deranged sleep patterns are another downside of isolation . All this in turn leads to disturbance in the daily routine of the patient .

Times when patients are in isolation , makes them more Vulnerable to develop disorganised mental health symptoms . And for those who are already suffering from mental health disorders or going through treatment for such disorders , Isolation can worsen their existing disease and interfere with their daily routine .

People at extreme ages , like teenagers /children and elderly/older age group , who are taken care of by their parents or family or caretakers , Isolation makes the task more difficult to keep a watch on them . For such patients of extreme ages , it would be difficult to live alone without any kind of support .

Sometimes people might not recognize , but Covid anxiety is real and mentally drains the patients , especially the ones in Isolation . So with physical and medical support , it is also important to provide psychological support to the patient . And professional help should seriously be taken into consideration for the same .

-Chanchal Kriplani

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