Alison Blackler, from Wirral-based 2minds, talks about some of the challenges we are facing and explains the triggers for some of common fears and anxieties many of us share
Lockdown during the coronavirus epidemic can cause fear and anxiety
It has been more than two weeks of lockdown – how are we all managing?
At the moment, the health and protection of our fellow human beings is our top priority. One of our strengths will come when we learn to recognise the important aspects of life: humanity, solidarity and being happy for the little things in our everyday life.
People do manage differently in different situations, although in these unprecedented times it does seem that we truly are all in the same boat. Stressors which we are probably all dealing with are infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma.
There is likely to be a high prevalence of symptoms of psychological distress and disorder. Symptoms such as emotional disturbance, depression, stress, low mood, irritability, insomnia, post-traumatic stress symptoms, anger and emotional exhaustion.
Fear of infection
It is a human trait to be concerned about survival. People will be naturally having fears about their own health or fears of infecting others, more likely to be fearful of infecting family members.
They also become particularly worried if they experienced any physical symptoms potentially related to the infection and fear that the symptoms could reflect having the infection. This will cause stress, particularly for vulnerable, pregnant women and those with young children.
Frustration and boredom
Confinement, loss of usual routine, and reduced social and physical contact with others will cause boredom, frustration, and a sense of isolation from the rest of the world, which is distressing to us all. The reality we are managing is being deprived of our liberty and freedom.
This frustration will be exacerbated by not being able to take part in usual day-to-day activities. Humans are social beings so this situation will be challenging our need to mix with others.
There is a fear of having inadequate basic supplies and being unable to get regular medical care and prescriptions. This has forced people to panic buy and created another problem.
We are social creatures by nature so isolation can induce stress
As the human mind is a certainty-making machine, not knowing will be causing a lot of stress and anxiety for many of us. The information is changing daily and this can lead to confusion. The lack of clarity about the different levels of risk, in particular, can lead to people fearing the worst.
There is always the challenge of a perceived lack of transparency from the Government officials about the severity of the pandemic, although it has to be said this is a new challenge for them too.
Financial loss can be a problem during lockdown, with people unable to work and having to interrupt their professional activities with no advanced planning. This can cause serious socioeconomic distress and a risk of increased anger and anxiety.
Stigma from others towards those that have had the virus is a huge concern. People are also treating each other differently in the streets; crossing the road, not making eye contact with each other, treating others with fear and suspicion, and making critical comments.
It might also be that media reporting contributes to stigmatising attitudes in the general public; the media is a powerful influence on public attitudes and dramatic headlines and fear-mongering have been shown to contribute to stigmatising attitudes in the past.
This issue highlights the need for public health officials to provide rapid, clear messages delivered effectively for the entire affected population to promote an accurate understanding of the situation.