Stress is a bit subjective

Stress is a bit subjective

We are all currently in an exceptional situation. Social isolation and the shutting down of public life cannot fail to leave their mark on our psyche. We have worked with dr. Gunter wimschneider talked about it. He is a specialist for psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy and has his practice in hausen.

Mr. Dr. Wimschneider, when people have to reduce their social contacts to the bare essentials, as is currently the case because of the coronavirus. How does this affect the psyche??

Dr. Gunter wimschneider man is a social being. It has long lived together in survival communities, in order to ward off dangerous animals together and to be more successful in food production. Social contact thus gives him security, affection, confirmation and meaning, and demands a sense of achievement.

If all this becomes less, it can have an adverse effect on people's psyche and moods. So the risk of mental illness may increase.

Even experts do not really know how the situation will develop. This insecurity reinforces the feeling of helplessness?

Since the virus is not tangible, like a dog barking at you, the uncertainty tends to trigger diffuse fears and many people seek information to confirm their fears. This often leads to an intensification of the fears. If I read about the same death five times a day, our brain unconsciously processes it as if five people had died.

The more we feel we can't do anything, the more likely we are to feel helpless and at the mercy of others – we feel we are losing control. This is also the reason for buying hamsters as a substitute action to have the feeling of having more control again.

People who can identify with the quarantine measures are more likely to feel better because they believe they are doing the right thing. Those who feel that their livelihoods are threatened by the mabnahmen and who do not consider the virus to be significantly more dangerous than an influenza infection are more likely to feel helplessly exposed by the mabnahmen – since it is not possible to predict what the situation will be like in four weeks' time.

By the way: in the 2017/18 season, there were nine million people infected with influenza in germany, with around 25,000 fatalities – mostly elderly, weak people in old people's homes. And the health care system has not collapsed.

Can this feeling of helplessness lead to serious health consequences??

Current external stressors may increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illness in vulnerable and pre-stressed individuals. The most common are depression, anxiety and addiction, which can also increase the risk of suicide.

That sounds terrible. What do you recommend to counteract this??

I n principle, anything that reduces negative stress and strengthens the immune system is good. It is still permissible to go out alone or with a family member in the fresh air, where you hardly meet anyone else. In this respect, it is healthy and safe, reduces the stress level, helps to get other thoughts and improves the lung function. With the sunlight, vitamin D is produced, which strengthens the immune system (can also be taken as a tablet).

Taking each other in the arms of the family at home and maintaining physical contact leads to oxytocin release (cuddle hormone), which reduces the stress hormone and improves the mood. If you live together, you can't avoid infecting each other anyway, so it's okay to do that.

If you have more time now because of short-time work or home office, you can consider doing something that you wouldn't otherwise have so much time for: reading a book, playing a musical instrument, giving each other a massage, playing with the children, taking care of the pet – that's always better than spending the whole day with corona, which only increases negative stress. Once a day is enough.

Because people find it very difficult to assess risks correctly. The brain believes that the more fear I have, the more dangerous the problem is. So you should refrain from anything that contributes to the fact that you get into it. Especially dangerous is the internet.

How long does a person (on average) endure such a situation??

Most people are allowed to be psychologically stable enough to endure such a situation for a few months (even if it is quite unfamiliar to us), as long as they see a sense in it and the basic supply is ensured.

In war zones and famine-stricken regions, people have much more serious problems and often have to cope with them somehow for years. Keeping this in mind can help put the situation into perspective a bit.

For the people whose livelihoods are threatened by these decreases, it naturally gets worse the longer it lasts. For them, it's a rough challenge to come to terms with it and, in the best case, to see opportunities for a fresh start.

For those who see something positive in all this – for example, air pollution is decreasing – the duration of this exceptional situation is not so important.

The interview was conducted Heike paulus


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