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Doctor explains some psychological impacts of social distancing

Dr. Amanda DePippo says your anxiety may be heightened, as well as a combination of feelings you're not used to dealing with.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — Social distancing under CDC guidelines is slowing the spread of coronavirus. This temporary new normal means more time spent at home, and for a lot of people, a lot of time spent alone.

Dr. Amanda DePippo is a licensed mental health counselor and a professor at the University of Florida's College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. 

She says these are some of the changes some people have noticed during isolation:

  • Irritability
  • Over-eating
  • Over-consumption
  • Poor sleep

As for why people are experiencing this, she says a lot of anxiety is heightened, and people have a combination of feelings they're not used to dealing with.

"Our feelings can change minute to minute through this," she explained.

On top of that, people don't have their normal outlets to help deal with the negative emotions, so this the result of the stress and people trying to deal with this stress.

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Some people told 10News they were also having vivid dreams.

"It's a way in which we're trying to process things when a lot of it right now isn't making sense. Also, all of our outlets have changed. Maybe people used to going to the gym or a restaurant to be able to talk and connect. So, our outlets have completely changed, so that might be another reason too, we're kind of working things out in our sleep," DePippo said.

Dr. DePippo says the fact that there's no end date to all of this impacts how people are handling the isolation psychologically, too. She says, in a lot of ways, that makes people feel powerless. 

While of course finding healthy coping mechanisms is important, Dr. DePippo wanted to really stress that it's important not to be too hard on yourself right now.

If you're reading this and you feel isolated or alone, you can find a list of online resources for mental health, substance abuse, suicide and more here.

You can also call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to reach the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is also a great service. All you have to do is dial 2-1-1 any time of day.

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