Mental and physical repercussions surrounding isolation
To understand the impact of isolation on humans, we start with the basic premise that we need social contact to thrive. We know that people who have strong social ties with others live longer, happier and are stronger physically. Isolation removes these natural elements of human existence and causes anger, fear, and depression. When isolated, we are forced to adapt, so our physical and psychological systems are likely to readjust to the new environment. You take an active, relaxed and generally mentally stable person and put them in an isolated space, of course, their functioning is going to change. Lack of space, lack of light, lack of contact – all of these are circumstances that are stressful as they are not natural.
What we are talking about here has additional stress-provoking elements: Uncertainty around one’s life, health, the well-being of their closest. Uncertainty around the duration of their quarantine, what will happen next and just being in the position of someone else determining your life.
We should also not forget that the reason why these people have been held in quarantine is to prevent their contact with other individuals. So, for the time being, they are treated rightfully-so but still hard for the mind to accept as potentially dangerous and to be avoided
Who are the most vulnerable – people who are predisposed to anxiety, who have experienced trauma, people who travel alone, high-conflict units – couples or families
What mental toll does it take on people – If the feelings of anger, fear, and shame are not processed at the moment, the may have a residual effect in the longer term.
What kind of support can be provided to these individuals?
First of all, having awareness of the mental implications and consulting professionals for guidance on how to communicate with these people; communication and clarity are essential.
Showing care and support. Anyone who is directly involved with the care of these individuals should receive basic emotional intelligence training. Often, it is those mini interactions that people have in moments of distress that make the difference.
Is it possible some may experience PTSD or other trauma following their release?
Of course. Any strong feelings that remained unresolved at the time of their occurrence or soon after hold the potential to reoccur in the form of post-traumatic symptoms. Memories can be relived and as we know that has a detrimental effect. If that is the case, treatment is required.