COVID-19: Self-isolation taking toll on mental, physical health

COVID-19: Managing mental illness during self-isolation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Right now, every person in the United States is being asked to stay home as much as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19. New research shows isolation can have long-term effects on a person’s mental or physical health.

According to a new national survey by Axois, some U.S. adults reported their emotional well-being has suffered since self-isolation. Initially, 23% of adults reported issues. By the following week, it jumped to 43% of adults.

“We are creatures of connection and we are creatures of habit,” Dr. Christine Cauffield said. “So when our daily routine is disrupted, it’s very disruptive to our mental health.”

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Cauffield is the CEO of LSF Health Systems in Jacksonville. She said her office has reported a huge spike in anxiety levels and depression. She said when the body is stressed, it can go into survival mode.

“The body goes into an automatic fight-or-flight and cortisol is dumping into our bodies and really depressing even further our immune system,” Dr. Cauffield said. “So we need to be mindful of what we’re telling ourselves and to focus on the here and now.”

She recommended establishing boundaries within the home. For example, parents with children can create times when they are and are not available. Then provide rewards when they respect boundaries.

However, she said connectivity is one of the top coping mechanisms to self-isolation. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has also suggested calling a loved one each night.

“Now more than ever it’s so important to be mindful of your mental health and take care of your mental health and wellness,” Cauffield said. “It’s just as important to be consistent with your physical health.”