Social isolation can harm physical and mental health


Two studies conducted in Georgia and Italy reveal that social isolation and quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic can have a detrimental impact on people living with pre-existing diseases, their authors presented at the 23rd European Congress of Endocrinology (and -ECE 2021).

The studies bring together research on the impact of social isolation and quarantine for people living with diabetes in the Adjara region (Georgia), and on patients with hypocartisolism in Italy. Both studies reported that social isolation during the pandemic caused significant psychological and / or physical distress in the individuals observed.

Data from the first study revealed that the impact of quarantine on people living with diabetes in the Adjara region led to increased blood pressure (BP) levels in 88.2% of patients, and 50 % of these cases there was a hospitalization for elevated BP. In addition to these physical factors, an increase in feelings of anxiety and fear was observed in 82% of the patients.

In the second study, patients with hypocartisolism experienced an increase in anxiety and depression, associated with a feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself and a lower capacity for recovery, compared to healthy Italian controls.

As these are all factors that contribute to overall deterioration in health, these results suggest that further research is needed so that patients with pre-existing conditions can stay fit and healthy during the current pandemic.

In the Adjara region study, Dr. Liana Jashi and the research team distributed an online questionnaire and collected responses from 16 endocrinologists and 22 family and general practitioners.

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The research confirmed the negative and indirect effects of social isolation and quarantine on people living with diabetes. He reported a list of negative effects, such as decreased access to health care, weight gain, and increased consumption of cigarettes and alcohol. Physical activity was reduced by 29.8%, a vital preventive factor for future physical and psychological problems.

“This study shows that people with diabetes need greater support during pandemics to maintain exercise and protect their physical and mental health. National health services should use this data and future studies to implement better social care around supporting people with pre-existing conditions, “says Dr. Jashi.

In the second study, Dr. Chiara Simeoli reports the data collected during the last three weeks of the mass quarantine that lasted two months in Italy, in a multicenter case control investigation based on a web survey in which 12 Italian centers participated. different.

The study confirmed that a large cohort of 478 patients with hypocartisolism, and in particular, 363 with adrenal insufficiency and 115 with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, adequately treated with glucocorticoids, showed greater anxiety and depression, associated with a feeling of dissatisfaction with themselves and a lower capacity for recovery, compared to healthy Italian controls, suggesting the detrimental impact of social isolation on the mental health of these patients, particularly frail and vulnerable to infection and stress.

Furthermore, patients with adrenal insufficiency reported a poorer quality of life than patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

“These results confirmed that, beyond the enormous impact on physical health, the COVID-19 epidemic, social isolation and mass quarantine represent important psychological stressors, causing serious effects on mental health, even more in people. with pre-existing diseases. National health services should consider offering psychological counseling to these vulnerable patients during COVID-19, “adds Dr. Simeoli.

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Both studies indicate that other larger studies are needed over a longer period of time for further investigation.

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