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Loneliness, the flip side of social distancing

By Minh Trang   April 11, 2020 | 12:56 am PT
Being locked up indoors as part of the social distancing campaign amid the Covid-19 pandemic is stressing out many people.

Since he returned to Vietnam from the U.S., Nguyen Tuan Anh, 20, has been attending online classes all night in the U.S. time zone, making him tired and sleepy during the day. His parents constantly complain about his routine.

A woman stays at home due to the outbreak. Photo by Shuttlestock/sandsun.

A woman stays at home due to the outbreak. Photo by Shuttlestock/sandsun.

But he is puzzled by the fact that his relatives are also ignoring him. 

When he came home a couple of years ago they always came to see him, but this time no one has bothered even after he finished his two-week quarantine.

"I do not understand if I did something wrong."

Sad and disappointed he began to take solace in smoking and drinking before deciding to see a psychiatrist.

Tran Thu Phuong, 29, a white-collar worker in Hanoi's Ba Dinh District, faces a similar issue. She lives with her husband, who is always busy with delivery amid the lockdown.

Cooped up most of the time in their 29-meter-square apartment, she only ventures out once every few days to buy food, while shopping and hanging out with friends are all but forgotten.

She cannot talk to anyone either since all her friends and colleagues are busy taking care of their families at home. When her husband comes home, she tries to tell him whatever is on her mind, but in vain. Tired after a long working day, he cannot listen.

Bored, she spent VND7 million ($300) to buy and read books, but it could not keep anorexia and insomnia at bay. Within a week, she lost three kilograms and decided to see a psychologist.

Loneliness when practicing social distancing is understandably an issue for many Vietnamese since they tend to have a lot of communal activities with family, friends and colleagues.

Nguyen Tu An, a psychiatrist in Hanoi, said loneliness could make people feel sad, tired or diffident, cause them to overeat or not eat anything, become emotional, or use stimulants.

"During the social distancing campaign, if you feel lonely for more than a week, you should look for help or you could become depressed."

Nguyen Cao Minh, a psychologist at the University of Education, said extroverted individuals could face even more problems since they always like communicating and meeting people, something not encouraged at this time.

But loneliness does not come only from being alone, and people living with others too could suffer if they do not connect with others or receive spiritual support, he explained. 

Psychiatrist An said if they feel lonely, people could try something new or share their emotions with family members, who could watch out for abnormal signals.

"Please do not assume others are alright when you are alright. Let us respect their emotions and listen to them when they want to talk."

 
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