COVID-19 – Day 71 – The Psychological Effects and Possible Impact on Our Economy



Today is March 31, 2020, and it has now been 71 days since the first COVID-19 patient was diagnosed in the United States. It has spread to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Many states have closed all nonessential businesses and issued “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders. These orders restrict people from leaving their homes for anything other than essential activities, which include going out for medical care, food, and essential work. In my opinion, one of the worst things about this crisis is the unknown, we have no idea how bad this is going to get and we do not know how long the “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders will be in effect. Couple the unknown with the seemingly endless stream of bad news being reported daily and it is obvious to me that this all is going to have very negative psychological effects on people. Also, people who are at high risk and sheltering in place are at risk of suffering negative psychological effects from the isolation. This can also apply to really anyone who have substantially reduced their social interactions. No matter how you’re feeling at this moment, experts suggest that the negative feelings and experiences associated with prolonged isolation will come for us all. According to experts, social isolation just doesn’t create a sense of boredom. “People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” says John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.” According to Lawrence Palinkas from the University of Southern California who researches psychosocial adaptation to extreme environments “Oftentimes, if you have a very well defined period of time in which you’re isolated people do pretty well up until the halfway point, then they experience a letdown. But when you’re in a situation like we are now, when you’re not certain how long you’ll be asked to maintain social distance, that produces anxiety as well.” The Departments of Psychiatry and Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York, conducted a study that examined the psychological impact of the SARS epidemic (2003) on hospital employees in China. What the study found was that about 10% of the respondents had experienced high levels of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms since the SARS outbreak. Hospital workers who were part of the study and who had been quarantined, or worked in high-risk locations such as SARS wards, or had friends or close relatives who contracted SARS, were 2 to 3 times more likely to have high PTS symptom levels, than those without these exposures. Also, those who were quarantined or worked in high-risk settings — almost half the sample — reported higher levels of alcohol abuse three years later than workers with less-intense exposure to the outbreak. From everything that I have read, I believe there is a high probability that quite a few people will suffer from some form of depression or anxiety as a result of this crisis. I also believe that these psychological issues could linger for quite some time after the crisis has passed. There is no doubt that this crisis will damage our economy, at the very least we will enter a recession. The unknown at this time is how deep and how long it will be, or if this could lead to an even bigger financial crisis. I have heard some experts and many politicians say they expect the economy to bounce back quickly once businesses reopen and the economy gets moving again. First off, in my opinion, it seems too early to make those claims because we really have no idea when this will end and the longer it goes on the more damage it will do to the economy. I understand people, especially politicians wanting to remain positive and keep the public calm, but we also must look at reality. Depression, anxiety, and fear each on their own or in combination can have a huge impact on a person’s everyday life. I feel that a side effect of this crisis that could impact our economic recovery is how quickly people can resume their pre-crisis lives. In my opinion for some people, this could prove very difficult. I can imagine that there will be a lot of anxiety and fear of becoming infected with COVID-19 even after the “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders have been lifted. This anxiety and fear, in my opinion, will inhibit people’s ability to get back to “normal” quickly. I can imagine that a fear of being around larger groups of people may be common and could last for quite a while. This I believe could have an impact on businesses where it is common for large groups to gather like restaurants, theaters, or sporting events to name a few. If this does happen then I am sure it will have a direct impact on how quickly the economy bounces back. I am not trying to be overly negative I just want to point out another possible side effect of COVID-19 besides the obvious physical effects. As I have said before my hope is that this crisis will pass soon doing as little damage to the economy as possible. I would love nothing better than for things to get back to normal, whatever that is. Most likely the “normal” we knew before COVID-19 will never return; we will have to get used to a new normal. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you all stay healthy and safe. Donald Hancock www.bigskycrypto.com

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