Is the confinement by coronavirus pandemic the greatest psychological experiment in history? This is how some experts on the subject consider it and, in view of the emotional effects Among the billions of people who were quarantined throughout the world, it could be said that they are right.
Within this huge population, children and adolescents are the protagonists of a paradox: despite not being a risk group for the disease, they are with respect to the restrictive measures that were taken in the face of the health emergency. In their physical and mental health, various ailments are evident as a result of social isolation.
The weight of the confinement
Testimony of Mariana, 42 years old, accountant: “As happened in all the houses, our family life was revolutionized in these months. The daily postcard is my husband and I working with the computers from the dining room table and our daughter lying on the couch with her eyes fixed on YouTube. It’s sad but the videos at all hours and the surprises (a box full of sweets and cookies that is on top of the refrigerator) are our allies to sustain this new routine without a babysitter, garden or friends. Everything that was previously exceptional consumption, now he eats it several times a day. And he’s gotten into the habit: if we say no, he throws a tantrum. ”
An alarming fact began to register in pediatric clinics: what many children gained after so many months of isolation. “Since July I have been seeing numerous cases of school-age children who, until before the pandemic, had a normal weight, and now They are not only overweight but directly scaled to a body mass index that expresses obesity”, Says Gladys Convertini, a pediatrician specializing in growth and development.
Weight gain does not make distinctions by age, since in some cases it impacted the entire family group, but it has particular causes in the youngest: “It is not only due to sedentary lifestyle but also due to an increase in food consumption. The anxiety inherent in this context made the boys eat more. Furthermore, sometimes parents, pressed by their work obligations, find no better recourse than to ‘entertain’ them with sweets and cookies ”, explains the specialist.
Guys who were of normal weight are now not only overweight but have directly escalated to a body index of obesity.
Gladys Convertini, pediatrician
The risks of childhood obesity are many: from the time this disease spreads to adulthood to development diabetes or cardiovascular diseases at an early age. For this reason, it is necessary to start modifying habits with medical control and restraint: “In general, when faced with a boy with a picture like this, you have to think of a plan that adapts to the socioeconomic context of his family and to this particular historical moment. And follow him month by month to see if he can progressively modify his routine and if, at least, it stops increasing ”, adds Convertini.
In medicine, and in the pediatric specialty in particular, the border between the emotional and the organic is blurred. Therefore, in the middle of the pandemic, many more inquiries began to be heard by nightmares, night terrors, sleep problems, and uncontrolled crying by boys who had not had these pictures before.
“The changes in routines they have had to adapt to bring about a series of manifestations that greatly concern parents. And all the aspects related to children’s mental health have a direct impact on their physical health, as a whole ”, the pediatrician emphasizes.
Back up lockers
Testimony of Lucía, 36 years old, lawyer: “Before isolation, we were in the process of getting our son out of diapers. He had started a salita de tres with his friends from last year and a few were at the same stage, others had already surpassed it directly. During the few days of adaptation that she had in the garden, that was one of the topics that they worked with the teacher. After there were no more classes, the whole routine at home changed, and so did our moods. My husband and I, more anxious and stressed. He, with more tantrums, more demanding and stuck with us all the time. And the worst: it began to get on. It was strong to see him backing up lockers. And in the garden there were similar situations on the part of other boys ”.
Children who started talking like babies went back to peeing in bed or sleeping with their parents like when they were younger. The setback in childhood behaviors is a way to somatize stress which became one of the effects of isolation that had the most resonance in recent months.
“In the repetition of these symptoms there an unconscious wake-up call parents to take care of them. It is the way they show a difficulty that deserves to be heard ”, explains the psychoanalyst specialized in children Patricia Corazza.
In cases in which the youngest go through stages that have been overcome again, the professional emphasizes the importance of parents accompanying, listening to their expressions whatever the form they acquire, and guiding them: a fear of death installed in society that it is necessary to put into words so that it stops expressing itself as a symptom, ”he explains.
However, regressions are not the only problems detected in children during this period. According to the specialist, depending on the age and cognitive and emotional development of the boys, states of reluctance, insomnia, anguish, irritability and fears (of abandonment, death or no longer seeing a loved one) were also recorded.
There is a fear of death installed in society that must be put into words so that it stops expressing itself as a symptom.
Patricia Corazza, psychoanalyst
“Many of these symptoms are transmitted by parents or caregivers who suffer the same suffering,” clarifies the professional. But, what is more worrying, is that depending on family dynamics, adults do not always have a record of these changes in their children.
In the youngest, these issues are not expressed verbally but through behavior, games and artistic expressions. “You have to be attentive to any distortion in any or all of these expressions to transmit calm, and if necessary, go to a professional to guide the family group. It is important to speak to children in clear and simple words about the coronavirus so that they can become familiar with the term, the disease and its consequences ”, recommends Corazza.
Testimony of Juan, 50 years old, architect: “During these months, my son Fede became more and more introspective and melancholic. It was kept in a shell that is impossible to access. He does not want to share anything with me or his mother and is totally disconnected from school. And it does not go through irresponsibility, it is as if the context overcomes it. She is 16 years old and has gone days without leaving her room and more than a week without bathing. When the open space exits started to open up a bit more, we encouraged him to hang out in a park with a friend for a while, but not either. For the first time we had to ask for professional help because this got out of hand ”.
They are distant and they skimp on physical contact with their family, they remain absorbed in their world, they avoid responsibilities, they go from indifference to drama. The inventory of typical adolescent attitudes is as extensive as it is universal.
Some warning signs to be aware of in adolescents: excessive confinement, refusing to eat, marked sadness, persistent insomnia.
Claudia Spinelli, psychoanalyst
However, in times of social isolation, its intensity increased: “It is that at this stage when experiences with their peers are of vital importance, it is very challenging for them to stay indoorss, cohabiting with their family, prevented from physical contact with their peers ”, contributes Claudia Spinelli, a psychoanalyst specialized in patients of this age range.
There is widespread concern among parents about hyper-connectedness, totally changed sleep habits, and lack of motivation regarding school responsibilities. But, what are the warning signs that we are facing a case that may be associated with a pathology?
“Excessive confinement, refusing to leave the room or eat, not exchanging words with the family, a marked sadness, persistent insomnia or impulses that can lead to excessive consumption of any type of substances show signs of discomfort that may imply a greater seriousness and warrant a professional consultation, ”says Spinelli, who has seen children with strong panic attacks, feelings of frustration and irritability associated with isolation.
However, the look of this professional is not fatalistic. For her, if today this “recrudescence of reactions and symptoms of adolescence” occurs in its proper measure, it represents a sign of health: “Denial, on the other hand, is a much more risky and complicated position.”