Two years later: What have been the psychological effects of the pandemic?

It is difficult to assess the psychological effects of the pandemic; it will be necessary to wait for some time to be able to evaluate its consequences. Everything points to the fact that on a psychological level we are still going through the pandemic; on an emotional level, certain processes take longer. We have chained one wave after another and we have no certainty about which will be the last, which does not make it easier to close this stage, we are still on alert, although a little more relaxed, perhaps exhausted.

That said, we can cautiously evaluate its effect until today. The psychological manifestations as a consequence of the COVID-19 are varied, both in symptomatology and intensity, especially considering that it has affected and continues to affect various areas of our lives, for example: family and couple relationships, labor, economic, social and/or psychological aspects.

In my daily work I have come across a significant number of cases in which the symptoms of pathologies already present have been exacerbated and that before the pandemic would not have required the intervention of a professional, since they were not incapacitating or did not generate significant suffering, also various symptoms have appeared in people without a history of psychological problems.

These symptoms, mainly associated with anxiety, range from Generalized Anxiety Disorders, stress, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to Specific Phobias (agoraphobia, hypochondriasis, misophobia, etc.). Not to mention the subclinical consequences, especially in children, adolescents, couple or family relationships.

Was the confinement of the spring of 2020 the worst moment on a mental level?

Probably the spring of 2020 marked a before and after in our lives, it brought to the forefront very profound aspects: the fragility of life, the value of freedom, the weaknesses of the system, etc.

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But no less demanding on a psychological level has been the recurrent return to the starting point after each wave, that return to uncertainty, fear and fatigue. The “aftershocks” have been less shocking in that they hardly brought anything new, but more exhausting in that the fatigue and wear and tear accumulated.

How have the isolation measures affected (curfew, limitation of meetings, reduction of mobility due to not being able to leave the city/CCAA)?

In most cases, adult isolation measures have meant an overexertion in certain daily activities and a renunciation of others. Teleworking, social relations, care of dependents, routines, hobbies… Everything has been altered in some way.

The case of children and adolescents is a more complex issue, as they have probably been the greatest victims of confinement, taking into account the importance of socialization in these evolutionary stages.

Is there any recent event in our history with similar effects on the population?

I don’t think we have experienced anything similar in the last century. In Spain we have lived through a Civil War, one of the most traumatic experiences for a nation, but with very different consequences, due among other causes to the “form” of each event, since a war is associated with: violence, assassinations, revenge, power, etc.

We must not forget that a crucial aspect of this type of crisis is how its consequences are managed. It is a fundamental aspect to repair and respect the process after a milestone of such magnitude.

For more information, consult a specialist in psychology.