Coronavirus News: Coping with the emotional toll of social distancing during COVID-19 pandemic

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- People across the country and across the region are practicing social distancing and self-isolation due to the coronavirus.

The lack of connection to others and emotional isolation can result in confusion, anger sadness and sometimes even symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

"Many of these symptoms, and their severity, are mediated by whether those who are quarantined are doing so voluntarily - "I don't feel so well, and I really don't want to make anyone else sick" - or because of a national, enforced emergency lock-down, by the extent and richness of their baseline social support network, and by their access to accurate and timely news, that is non-alarmist information," said Frank A Ghinassi, President and CEO of Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.

Other contributors to increased symptoms in the face of isolation are a lack of access to basic needs, including in-adequate housing, clothing, food and water, needed medical prescriptions and lack of an ability to stay connected via internet, social medial, phone, facetime and other technological connection tools.

"For many, social isolation includes not being able to get to work, and as a result can mean financial loss and insecurity as an added stressor," he said. "There is also stigma felt by those under quarantine. They feel like they are to blame and labeled as somebody who needs to be avoided."

Stay-at-home seniors are particularly affected as they rely on others for daily needs and live alone with inadequate support networks.

"Many individuals in 2020 too often mistake Twitter and Instagram "counts" as a viable substitution for face to face, intimate friendships, and it really is several degrees of linkage away," said Ghinassi who recommends people reconnect with family members or friends via phone or video chat during these stressful times.


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