One thing we hear too little of during the COVID-19 quarantine crisis is the serious mental health consequences of social isolation.
How this is being left out of the public health equation is puzzling and certainly dangerous. Maybe it's a media reaction to President Donald Trump's raising the mental health issue, including his warning about increased suicides. You know how anything Trump says is automatically discarded as a lie or the product of a crazed mind.
Social distancing comes with psychological fallout
Experts warn prolonged isolation during the pandemic may worsen or trigger mental health problems
Here are some selections from the article
Many quarantined individuals experienced both short- and long-term mental health problems, including stress, insomnia, emotional exhaustion and substance abuse.
- One cited study found that symptoms worsen after a 10-quarantine.
- "Health problems associated with social isolation tend to crop up when the situation goes on beyond a few weeks."
- "Especially at risk are the elderly, who both get more ill from the coronavirus and already experience high rates of social isolation."
And modern technology is no substitute for human touch, such as holding hands, hugging or massage, which studies suggest can affect health, including possibly lowering blood pressure and reducing the severity of symptoms from the common cold.
Neuroscientist James Coan especially worries about those individuals requiring medical care during this pandemic, either for COVID-19 or some other condition. Many hospitals are barring visits from loved ones which makes sense to prevent the virus’ spread. But that also reduces touch when people need it most, says Coan of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. His work suggests, for instance, that handholding can reduce physical pain.
The social and economic disruption caused by isolation on a national and global scale is unprecedented and unstudied. We're flying blind when trying to estimate the threat of the coronavirus to public health. It's time to start considering all the consequences, some of them unintended and unseen, of such a desperate and radical change to our life style.