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Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation

Submitted by Kimberly Parker

A topic that is not discussed very often is the psychological impact of a quarantine. Quarantine separates and restricts people when there is a potential of being exposed to a contagious disease, thus reducing their risk of infecting others. This differs from isolation which is the separation of people who have been diagnosed with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.

The origin of the word quarantine can be traced back to Venice, Italy in 1127 in reference to leprosy. It was broadly used as a response to the Black Death, but it wasn’t until 300 years later that the United Kingdom began to impose quarantine in response to the plague.

While most people will say they have not felt a negative effect due to quarantining, the physical and psychological effects for others is varied. There are many influencing factors such as separation from loved ones, uncertainty of disease, lack of supplies, financial loss, restricted freedom, and even boredom that can greatly effect one’s state of mind.

The stress of confinement can take a toll on one’s mental health elevating depression, post-traumatic stress and even alcoholism. Among people who have self-quarantined we are seeing elevated cases of acute stress disorder, exhaustion, detachment from others, anxiety, irritability, insomnia and poor concentration.

Providing social support can help relieve stress. The ability for people to talk by phone or see each other on Zoom, WebEx, FaceTime or other visual platform is helping to connect people who can’t be together. Seeing a loving face of a friend, grandchild or co-worker can have a calming and relaxing effect.

Communication during COVID-19 has been a double edged sword. On one hand, providing people with as much information as possible offers them a sense of control to make everyday decisions about what they should or shouldn’t be doing within the community. However, some people have a compulsive need to listen to every possible COVID-19 news report and are experiencing a high level of anxiety as a result of it. Avoiding excessive exposure to media by limiting viewing to specific times each day can help alleviate tension and fear.

For those who may be experiencing a higher than normal level of stress and anxiety, connecting with a physician, therapist, and/or support group is important. There are a wide array of resources available that can be accessed through Connecting Point at 530-274-5601.

Making small adjustments may also mitigate the emotions you are feeling. For some creating a daily routine is helpful, while others find it beneficial to vary their day. Keep your mind occupied with things you enjoy. Seek out three good things each day to balance the negative.

The most important thing we can do during these unusual times is to be kind. Everyone’s circumstances are different and the toll it may be taking on someone physically and emotionally is deeply personal. Remember, everyone is doing the best they can.


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