The return to routine before the covid-19 pandemic, the easing of protective measures, the end of social isolation or distance can cause in some people a phenomenon that psychologists call “hut syndrome”.
Despite its name, it is not a disease nor is it considered a mental disorder, but an affliction, 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, shopping in commerce or have to attend a public office, such as an agency of the INSS (National Institute of Social Security).
“I have patients who are still very distressed about not having a vaccine against covid and life is returning to the routine of work”, 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
“All kinds of isolation can trigger the syndrome, especially if it is an extended period and it is linked to fear. It is not only the fact that you are at home for long periods, but the feeling that there is something unknown out there that can infect you, kill or get sick “, 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. One can have a hard time resuming these activities and suffering.”
“Leaving is no longer natural as before. People left the house, they were on the street and ready. Now, they don’t have to worry about the mask, they have to worry about having people’s physical distance. They can’t touch things. They should wash their hands or rub alcohol. 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 am 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 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.
They suggest that each person measure their adaptive stress. If the resumption is very difficult, try to remember the strategies you used for other challenges, seek support in leaving 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 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 turn on a little light that he needs to look at this 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 Cunto.
More information on National Radio Agency.