Did quarantine lead you to have cabin fever?

Did quarantine lead you to have cabin fever?

Lately we often hear about the so-called "cabin fever", which would have affected a lot of people in the most advanced phase of the pandemic. It is characterised by a sense of demotivation, melancholy, anxiety, fatigue or simply a desire to lock oneself indoors and not go out.

This fever is interpreted as the fear of abandoning the certainty of a safe place for the uncertainty of an insecure world or as a real phobic reaction to the virus, determined precisely by the traumatic event but destined to disappear slowly. Surely this is a valid explanation for a slice of people, as various therapists point out, but are we sure it applies to everyone?

Before the coronavirus we were constantly complaining about our lives being too hectic, about how difficult it was to reconcile family, work, hobbies and friendships due to lack of time, then suddenly we found ourselves at a standstill, with all the time we had always lacked. And in those days, even though we initially felt nostalgia for the good old days, we rediscovered the slowness.

Are you afraid to go back to the life you had before the virus? If the answer is yes, you could suffer from the so-called "cabin fever" and you would not be the only one. After quarantine, in fact, many people suffer from cabin fever that makes them feel anxious and afraid at the thought of leaving home.

Cabin fever was a consequence of the period immediately after the quarantine; in other words, what, albeit with some precautions, has (re)opened the way to freedom: now, in many countries, it is allowed to leave home and start living again, but not everyone feels it. It is a condition that activates states of anxiety, fear, sadness and general malaise at the idea of leaving home, seeing people or attending crowded places, which can come after a period of imprisonment or isolation. Just what happened with lockdown.

How can you tell if you suffer from this syndrome?

Cabin fever can also show itself in a disguised way. The most obvious symptoms are sadness, demotivation, anxiety at the thought of going out, a sense of fatigue. People who show these symptoms may simply say that they are comfortable in the house and do not feel the need to go out. In fact, a danger bell might ring whenever they try to look out of the window and develop a fear of the outside world. Many people living with cabin fever already had some form of social phobia. This means that in their lives they had already experienced a certain fear for each other and a tendency to isolate themselves rather than socialize.

With the lockdown, the feeling of danger outside the house and security in one's own lair became more pronounced and this led to the feeling of terror even at the thought of leaving the house. The brain, in fact, has become accustomed to the condition of isolation. One of our greatest resources is to adapt to change. After a possible moment of fatigue, we get used to it and always find a way to cope with the situation we are living in, whether it is good or bad. The months of mandatory lockdowns had now entered normal and so the return to freedom becomes a new change - this time voluntary - to be faced and that is why it is so scary.

If you have noticed that you are in the midst of these symptoms or think that a loved one is suffering from them, you don't have to blame anyone. It is natural to feel lost at such a difficult time. On the other hand, the virus is still out there, and feeling more secure indoors is more than legitimate.

How to overcome cabin fever?

While on the one hand, the media and, in particular, television often show us crowds of people in public squares and places, on the other hand there are many others who have difficulty getting out of the house and who do not want to "go back to life". What does this mean? It means that being locked inside the house, in isolation, in an unnatural condition for such a long time has weakened, from a psychological point of view, many people. This tendency not to go outside is not always linked to the fear of contagion but is linked to the difficulty of returning to the social life that one had before the spread of the coronavirus and affects not only adults but also adolescents. Many children and teenagers who need to socialize, to be in contact with their peers, have found themselves at home with their parents for months, glued to a screen, be it a mobile phone or a computer or a television, and, their psychic balance may have been strongly affected by this isolation.

At this point, therefore, the question arises as to whether the situation of people who are not going out is more worrying than that of people who are going out and maybe getting together. They are both dangerous situations. Because on the one hand, those who do not respect distances endanger the safety of everyone. On the other hand - those who do not go out - we have people who risk developing important problems.

What can you work on to convince people to go out and overcome their cabin fever? In the most serious cases it is necessary to intervene with psychotherapy because we are dealing with people who are in serious conditions of fragility and vulnerability and who need the help of a professional. In less serious situations it is advisable to take gradual steps to begin to return to social life because fears must be faced gradually. What you can do is approach the outside world in small steps, going to places that make you feel safe and with the people you feel closest to.

Last but not least, we all have to work to be supportive because this quarantine has underlined a moment of loneliness and we have to return to social life as soon as possible with precautions. Governments should not just send messages of fear but messages of hope. Instead of frightening people - because in the face of fear people either deny the problem and do the assemblage or close themselves off and stop - we must inform with hope. And to do this, correct information is the basis of everything.

Have you and your language exchange friends ever heard of this fever? Do you still spend all day at home, or have you started going out again? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by: Martina Sassi, Staff Writer

Studenz.com Language Exchange