The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has left people who have come into contact with the virus self-isolating to avoid infecting others. As the world's population goes into quarantine, does spending time quarantined lead to negative mental health outcomes?
Yes, quarantine is bad for your mental healthShow moreShow less
Being isolated from friends and family and reduced social interactions are proven to cause significant damage to our mental health.
The longer-term effects of quarantines have been observable in those affected by the 2003 SARS epidemic. Research indicates that quarantine caused higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In a study carried out among 129 individuals quarantined during the 2003 SARS epidemic in Toronto, researchers found a higher rate of psychological distress. Almost 30% of those observed displayed evidence of PTSD. Those who had been quarantined for longer periods of time were more likely to display PTSD symptoms.
In the same study, all of the individuals reported a "sense of isolation." Having in-person social interactions and physical contact are heavily restricted during quarantine. Both of these things contribute positively to recognizing and strengthening one's connection with others. When someone can't have any in-person social interactions, due to being at risk for severe COVID-19 or being a healthcare worker, the feeling of isolation can be even more intense. For people who are experiencing intense feelings of isolation, quarantine is a trauma. Feeling unsafe or feeling like the people you love are unsafe can keep you in a hypervigilant state and thus be a kind of trauma.
Additionally, reactions to feeling unsafe often include self-destructive behaviors, such as drug addiction and self harm. Engaging in self-destructive behaviors can be traumatic and lead to PTSD if the traumatized individual doesn't have strong social support and a safe environment to recover in. Trauma from self-destructive behaviors is an indirect way that quarantine can cause one to develop PTSD.
Another way that quarantine can increase rates of PTSD is PTSD from living in an unsafe home. If someone lives in a household that has abusive people in it, quarantine means that they will need to spend more time around the abusive people. Work, school, or friend's homes can be reprieves from abusive households. Spending more time around abusive individuals can definitely lead to a higher frequency of traumatic events. An increased frequency of abuse trauma can lead to an increase in rates of PTSD.
[P1] Quarantine can cause PTSD.
[P2] Therefore, quarantine is bad for our mental health.