COVID lockdown effect: Many in Bengaluru now gripped with socialising phobia

People must pace their social interactions, companies too should start with smaller groups at workplace: Experts 

Published: 16th November 2021 07:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th November 2021 01:07 PM   |  A+A-

Laziness, Thought, Thinking, Loneliness

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Express News Service

BENGALURU: Deepa Nanjanagud, a business executive, was eagerly waiting for the COVID restrictions to end. She wanted to get back to office, meet friends, and socialise. But little did she know that she would soon feel "exhausted and uninterested". It is not just Deepa, but several people feel socialising is becoming "exhausting".

Psychologists say quite a few people have been consulting them for anxieties surrounding socialising. Even companies that have now made it mandatory to work from office have employees, who are facing mental health issues, like anxiety, depression and distress.

"Many are anxious about social interactions. Though there is no increase in Covid cases, for those who have gone through the experience of losing their loved ones or losing their jobs etc, the trauma is so deep that they do not want to socialise. They like to be on their own," said Dr Mahesh R Gowda, who heads Spandana Group of Hospitals.

Psychologists say that many people are tempted to make up for lost time by scheduling a slew of gatherings, outings and social activities. But doctors advise them to pace such activities.

"If people have been isolating or sticking to a small bubble, they may feel out of practice socialising with a bigger group of colleagues and friends. It may be exhausting to relearn all those little social graces one has not actively practised during the pandemic," said Dr Vinay J, a clinical psychologist from Jayanagar.

While introverts found it comfortable to stay in their own zone, it is surprising that even extroverts have taken nearly a week to get used to social gatherings. Dr Mahesh says he is seeing a small set of people who are extremely fearful of COVID-like scenarios.

They continue to be phobic and wear masks even at home, do not interact with any other family member, avoid visitors and order online rather than step out. There are many students who are refusing to get back to college life and academics. They are facing hypochondriacal symptoms, the psychologists said.

Doctors say that while people should now step out of their homes and also socialise, they need to take it slow and need not rush. Companies should start with smaller group meetups before getting the entire company together, they suggest.

Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, coordinator, Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) Clinic at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), says, "Remedies lie in working on lifestyle, relaxation, connecting with others gradually and exercise. If you develop persistent mood issues, seek professional help."

Psychological burnout also called as pandemic fatigue where COVID pandemic and resultant lockdown has disrupted our lives, leading to lot of restrictions in the way we work, we socialise and we interact. Earlier, our routines used to be structured, with certain formal and informal engagements in our social transactions both in our personal and professional lives, which due to pandemic disruption resulted in overlapping/blurred daily routines setting in boredom, monotonously and feeling anhedonic.

Dr Venkatesh Babu, Consultant - Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore says, a segment of population thrived very well with the lockdown and work from home routine, who were high on introversion, high neuroticism, etc. 

The way we adapt to this new normal was also determined by our individualistic personality attributes.

He says, some studies on mental health post natural calamities/ disasters describe a phenomenon called 'psychological hibernation' - a chronic period of exposure to under stimulated atmosphere, were the brain is adapted to function at lower threshold.

"This, some, with the ease of restrictions may result in over compensatory socialising behaviors where they indulge in all experiences in a rush but experiencing loss of interest in any social engagements. Also, the brain exposed to chronic state of threat due to COVID would be attuned to function in a different emotional resilience patterns driven by the frontal lobe influencing the limbic system regulating human emotions," Dr Venkatesh explains.

Dr. Girishchandra, Sr. Consultant - Psychiatry, Aster CMI Hospital says with many people staying indoors during work from home routine or during lockdown many may have a tendency to over socialise, some of them may even get into use of substances which can affect their mental health.

It is important to follow good lifestyle with exercise routine and also maintain a balance between stepping out and socialising along with work. The most important thing  to remember is that 'moderation' is the key and not giving 'stress' to our body.


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