End of distance can trigger “hut syndrome”

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The return to routine before the covid-19 pandemic, the easing of protective measures, the end of isolation or social detachment can cause in some people a phenomenon that psychologists call “hut syndrome”.




Returning to routine before the covid-19 pandemic can cause stress for some people

Photo: Rovena Rosa / Agência Brasil

Despite its name, it is not a disease and it is not considered a mental disorder, but an affection, an adaptive stress among people who may experience emotional difficulties when having to leave the state of retirement at home and return to face-to-face activities at work commercial purchases or have to attend a public office, such as an agency of the National Institute of Social Security (INSS).

“I have patients who are still very distressed about not having a vaccine against covid and life is returning to the work routine”, reports psychologist Célia Fernandes, from Brasília, used to dealing with demands caused by fear and anguish.

The expression “hut syndrome” originated in the early 20th century and served to describe the experiences of people who were isolated during periods of snowfall in the Northern Hemisphere and who then had to resume living together. It also affected professional hunters who have gone into the woods in the past and, in the present, it can affect workers who are always away due to their jobs, such as those employed on oil platforms.

Out of control
“Any kind of isolation can trigger the syndrome, especially if it is an extended period and is linked to fear. It is not just the fact of being at home for long periods, but the feeling that there is something unknown out there that can infect, kill or become ill ”, contextualizes Débora Noal, also a psychologist in Brasília.

Psychologist Ana Carolina de Araujo Cunto, from Rio de Janeiro, explains that the moment of suspension of distance can be challenging for some people. “This transition from leaving the comfortable, controlled environment, to the outside world can sound like a threatening, scary thing. The person may have difficulty in resuming these activities and suffer. ”

“Going out is no longer natural as before. People left the house, were on the street and ready. Not now, they have to worry about the mask, they have to worry about having physical distance from people. They can’t touch things. They should wash their hands or use alcohol gel. Check that they are sitting in a place close to ventilation. We are in a constant state of alert ”, describes Cunto.

For people with hut syndrome, the house is the best place to be, explains the psychologist: “when the world outside becomes threatening, for whatever reasons, the house represents a place of protection. Where I feel good, where I am protected and where I can be in control of things. ”

“For her, the house represents refuge, comfort, a feeling of protection, care and welcome. “It is as if there were this stranger out there that I cannot see, which in this case is the virus, what I cannot be sure of, if someone is infected,” adds Débora Noal.

Attention on resumption
The resumption of activities may be unproductive at the beginning. Psychologists advise people to be alert to signs of anxiety, fear and even panic. There may be discomforts such as tachycardia, sweating and difficulty sleeping. Appetite can change, from loss of hunger to eating more food.

Psychologists advise each person to measure their adaptive stress. If recovery is very difficult, try to remember the strategies you used for other challenges, seek support in leaving your home in your “socio-affective network”, formed by family, friends and neighbors, and if you have faith, activate spirituality.

One suggestion is to leave the house together with someone you trust and who can also prevent covid-19. Another tip is to rehearse the exit, starting with a descent to the entrance of the building or the gate of the house. Then, at another time, a few steps down the street, and further on, longer strolls to restore confidence.

If that is not enough, psychologists suggest that people attend specialized office. “To understand the reactions, how they happen and what are the tools that she can use to face”, says Débora Noal.

“If the person realizes that he is not managing to overcome his difficulties, and that this has become a bigger and paralyzing thing, to the point of not being able to comply with activities outside the home, then he turns on a little light that he needs to look at it more carefully . If you cannot do this alone, it is recommended that you seek therapy to be able to understand if it has any deeper roots, ”adds Ana Carolina Cunto.

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Agency Brazil
Agency Brazil

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