Mental health issues arising from the Coronavirus Lockdown

Lockdown anxiety

Our nervous system is designed to (1) deal with large physical threats (such as predators); (2) for us to have a trusting and positive relationship with our body; (3) and to be reassured and supported by social contact.

What is happening instead is that the Covid-19 lockdown has reduced social contact and support, created fear of contact, and also fear of something so small that we can't fight it or run away from it. Simply put, the modern self-isolation response to a pandemic might possibly have some medical and scientific basis, but human societies have never done this before in quite the same way.

The net effect is that many people - and particularly those who previously suffered from (or even had the tiniest tendency towards) PTSD or depression or anxiety or may other mental health disturbances have been badly hit. An escalation in mental health problems is even being reported in the media. These are often increased unnecessary isolation, increased anxiety and sleeplessness, and so on, which may be accompanied by more physical secondary symptoms including digestive problems and breathing difficulties. Of course - all these are not only symptoms of Coronavirus(!) but are also strains on the immune system that make potential infection more likely. So it all goes in a circle - or more to say, a downward spiral.

Eco-anxiety

Eco-anxiety...

In many ways this Coronavirus/Lockdown effect is one version of a much greater wave of anxiety that is occurring internationally, commonly called &Eco-Anxiety&. Although teenagers and schoolchildren are particularly affected, people from all age groups and social groups are aware that human-caused damage to the Earth's environment is going to impact human Civilisation in the near future. There are no easy answers to the questions this raises, and in a similar way to Coronavirus, our nervous system has not evolved to deal very well with this kind of situation unless it is proactively managed and properly &calibrated& to your immediate surroundings. This self-managemt is not so easy to achieve because our culture gives the wrong instructions for how to manage the body-mind. If you are still anxious after applying the methods you already know, it's likely that you need a little more help!

All this is often surprisingly easy to treat...

What might surprise you is that this effect is not strictly psychological. The main place it all affects us is in the primitive physiological nervous system - and then it enters a more cognitive and conscious feedback loop. However, the main effect is in your physiology, your body. And this is exactly the kind of condition that I have been treating for the past 15 years using body-based approaches instead of psychotherapy. I'm not saying that the external situations will just disappear. But the idea is that you should be able to function effectively in the world - and bring burdened by anxiety reduces your capacity to do anything constructive.

There is no need - at least initially to come to the clinic if that causes too much anxiety, because the first treatments can - if necessary - be carried out using Zoom (or similar) online video conferencing.

Contact me for more information. A technical article on this issue, authored by Stephen Porges can be see at the Journal of Clinical Neuropsychiatry.

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