Cabin syndrome: how to overcome this fear that appeared with confinement? : Current Woman The MAG

The cabin syndrome, also called the snail syndrome, is not a disorder "recognized" in psychiatry, but rather an expression which one uses to designate a difficulty to leave the home and / or a difficulty. to resume social life after a period of isolation, as is currently the case with the health situation (confinement, curfew, etc.). This term "cabin syndrome" (síndrome de la cabaña) was made popular at the end of the first containment put in place in Spain to fight against Covid-19.

Cabin syndrome: does the fear of going out affect us more with confinement?

For a good "self-regulation of emotions" and therefore good psychological health, it is necessary to find a balance between social moments and moments of solitude. "Each individual can regulate their mood by alternating the two.", explains psychologist Pierluigi Graziani.

"The pandemic modifies this" ideal "alternation and imposes social isolation. The risk is that the person conforms to this loneliness and does not seek social situations when he has the possibility. In psychology, we describe this phenomenon with the concept inertia of loneliness ", specifies the specialist.

In today's isolation environment, the inertia of loneliness defines the tendency to remain in prolonged states of being alone. It is in a way a vicious circle that we start, sometimes without even realizing it: "The more time I spend alone the more likely I will continue to be alone." This concept is similar to the description of the cabin syndrome, which therefore arose following the first confinement.

In other words, individuals with a high inertia of loneliness tend to alternate less between a state of loneliness and social interactions. They remain in a state of loneliness, and therefore are more likely to suffer from snail syndrome.

Cabin syndrome: what could be the consequences?

Experts agree that the tendency to remain in states of loneliness (the inertia of loneliness or cabin syndrome) increases depressive symptoms, especially rumination.

"When social interactions are absent for longer periods of time, excessive rumination can lead to the development of other depressive symptoms (Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, 2000), in particular, social anhedonia, or disinterest in social contact and decreased pleasure from social contact ", explains Pierluigi Graziani.

As a result, people with more depressive symptoms are less motivated to seek social contact in general, but especially when they are alone. It then becomes more difficult to re-engage in social interactions. No longer being in motion increases the difficulty of distributing. Thus, the risk in the long term would be that these people would remain "stuck" in social isolation.

Social contact helps to keep a better sense of reality. Discussing with others helps correct your own thoughts: during a period of isolation, you tend to suffer more from your own psychological vulnerabilities, and if people with a depressive tendency will start to see more of the negative, to lose in insurance.

"Along with the isolation, the feeling of self-efficacy andself esteem decreases. Negative self-beliefs may increase and some people may develop feelings of shame and embarrassment towards others ", warns Pierluigi Graziani.

Mental health: isolation affects some students

A recent study (Hamza, Ewing, Heath, & Goldstein, 2020) has shown that the social isolation of students during Covid-19 increased pathology among students.

"It is interesting to note that it was not the mental health of the students who benefit from mental health follow-up before the Covid-19 which worsened, but that of other students unknown by the psychiatric services until then . ", would like to clarify the psychologist.

"Universities must therefore continue to support struggling students and put in place prevention programs for all students to help them manage this period of isolation and increasing the potential effect of growing social isolation. in response to the pandemic. Cabin syndrome results in students dropping out of university and increasing the risk of depression. ", adds Pierluigi Graziani.

8 tips from a psychologist to overcome cabin syndrome

Pierluigi Graziani, a specialist in behavioral, cognitive and emotional therapy, gives us some tips to avoid the situation of isolation:

  • Don't tell yourself "I'm waiting for it to pass and everything will be back to how it was before." Isolation time has an immediate effect, it damages psychological health by unbalancing the alternation you had between social moments and moments of loneliness.
  • Keep in touch with your friends: even remotely, by phone, video or messages, interactions with friends are predictive of happiness.
  • Increase the opportunities for social interaction as soon as you can: social interaction helps to come out of rumination states and regulate emotions. Adapt, invent accordingly: invent new modes of communication, use networks, plan video exchanges to discuss with others.
  • Force yourself, if the urge starts to run out. Persevere: there are many things that seem unnecessary at first, but doing them activates your brain.
  • Plan your day to maintain or establish good habits: isolation may change a social rhythm since there are no more social constraints. It is important to keep a rhythm as before: I sleep at night, I eat well, I take care of myself and my appearance, I get active during the day.
  • Exercise, keep moving daily.
  • Also do emotional exercise: relaxation, meditation, yoga … There are many applications that can help you if you are just starting out.
  • Don't procrastinate! The loss of motivation leads to delaying what you could do now. It increases anxiety and depression. Perform a task of your To do list increases self-esteem and a sense of control over your life.

Finally, if certain signs persist or appear (depression, anxiety, sadness, loss of pleasure, insomnia, smoking, increased consumption of alcohol, drugs, etc.), do not hesitate to seek outside help from a professional. Online consultations for psychological help are offered, for example, at Do not wait for this health situation to end: the sooner you consult, the more effective the care will be!

Snail syndrome: how to help a loved one who suffers from it?

Anyone who is isolated is at risk of depression and may later face the difficulty of resuming a "normal" rhythm. If a loved one is in a state of loss of motivation to meet other people, do not hesitate to to solicit him, to "force" him to take care of him, do it today, not tomorrow. "Taking care of a loved one can also help you give meaning to this difficult time!", encourages the psychologist.

Isolation, depression… Does this necessarily mean depression?

The social isolation imposed by confinement and other restrictive measures raises the question of its consequences for mental health.

"Socially isolated people generally report more psychological suffering and more psychiatric disorders. Studies show that people with less social relationships, support, are more likely to suffer from stress and in particular depression", explains Pierluigi Graziani.

"The relationship between social isolation and depression is two-way: while social isolation can lead individuals to develop more depressive symptoms, depressive symptoms can also affect the degree of social isolation in individuals", specifies the specialist

But as Pierluigi Graziani reminds us, being alone is not necessarily bad: although being alone can have negative effects on mental health, there are also positive effects.

Like the "honjok", Koreans who have made the choice to experience their solitude in a positive way, and to derive many benefits from it, being alone can be good!

"Whether or not loneliness has a positive effect on the well-being and mental health of an individual may depend on the dosage that must be adapted depending on the person, the social context … For example, in adolescent populations , a moderate time of loneliness is associated with less psychological distress compared to adolescents who spent less or more time alone ", explains the psychologist.

Thanks to Pierluigi Graziani, Psychologist on the platform, University professor in clinical psychology and psychopathology, University of Nîmes and Aix-Marseille University. To discover: his Podcast psychological health advice Two shrinks I

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