Quarantine and your mental health

Rocheda Bartley
Rocheda Bartley

April 13, 2020

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How is being in quarantine affecting your mental health? Associate clinical psychologist at Caribbean Tots to Teens Justine East-Campbell says one’s psychological well-being can be troubled in several ways. That’s because social integration is essential.

The expert told Flair that anyone can be affected. However, those with existing mental health conditions, especially depression and anxiety; low social support and finances; and more vulnerability to the disease, such as the elderly and those with chronic diseases, are at a higher risk.

“Depressive symptoms can worsen due to the restrictions, isolation, and changes in routine. Persons who experience depression also have a tendency to think in less positive ways and focus more on the negative, so it’s more likely to be difficult for them to remain optimistic, grateful for what they do have, and make the best of their situation,” she explained.

East-Campbell further noted that inaccessibility to some of the activities and techniques that may have helped one cope with their depression can make the situation worse during the stay-at-home period.

COMMON EFFECTS

There are several common effects that are likely to arise while one is in quarantine. These include fear, worry, and anxiety as one is concerned about their own health and that of their loved ones, depression, feelings of loneliness and helplessness, frustration, anger, and irritability. In addition, people with pre-existing mental health conditions may experience a worsening of symptoms.

Although you might find the quarantine period very stressful, you must find ways of coping. In fact, acknowledging the pressure is the first step, psychologist East-Campbell recommends.

It’s okay to feel worried. To get over it, you should stay connected with friends and loved ones using the phone and other devices and try to identify the good things each day, for instance, being healthy, having food and a great family to spend quarantine with, and the ability to work from home.

TIME TO DO SOMETHING

She said it’s also a time to do something you’ve been putting off and to stick to your normal routine as much as possible and practise relaxation techniques like deep breathing, mindful breathing, meditation, imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation. Managing news intake is also a good idea. Limiting yourself to watching the news only once or twice a day, avoiding unreliable sources of information, and seeking counselling and therapy online (telehealth) are other actions that East-Campbell said can help. These techniques can also prevent mental-health degradation in the first place.

“If the time is managed effectively, a quarantine period can be a means of reflecting on one’s life and processing feelings (introspection), creating short-term and long-term goals, and becoming more organised,” East-Campbell said.

But that’s not all the good that can come from this time. The mental-health expert is also encouraging you to use the time to work on your marriage and familial interactions, as well as initiating tasks that you have been procrastinating on so you can experience feelings of accomplishment. In fact, these can help to reduce the symptoms of your mental-health conditions.

Story by Rocheda Bartley

rocheda.bartley@gleanerjm.com

Rocheda Bartley

Author

Rocheda Bartley

Whether it's through her written profiles or quick retorts, Rocheda Bartley has a way with words. Quiet, diligent and observant, she brings balance to the Flair team and never ceases to surprise.

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