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Psychiatrists: Lack of hugs increases anxiety and stress

2021-04-04T13:49:51.403Z

Also this year Easter, as already experienced in the past, will be for many a day in solitude without lunches with friends and trips out of town. (HANDLE)



Also this year Easter, as already experienced in the past, will be for many a day in solitude without lunches with friends and trips out of town.

But, above all, without shaking hands, hugging or caressing someone we love, with repercussions on psychic well-being in particular for the elderly and all those who live alone.

A malaise, psychiatrists warn, attributable to the so-called phenomenon of 'skin hunger', which various scientific studies are beginning to document.

The social distancing imposed by the need to manage infections, in fact, 'steals' physical contact and gestures of affection.


    Thus, the affective exchanges of friends and relatives who are not living together, of grandchildren and children for grandparents, the most fragile, cease.


    "Physical contact is reassuring, because it is the most archaic way to make us feel safe. Furthermore, the sense of security and fulfillment it causes triggers positive neurochemical changes such as the increase in the production of oxytocin, the attachment hormone that it has a 'reassuring' effect ", explain Massimo di Giannatonio and Enrico Zanalda, co-presidents of the Italian Society of Psychiatry (SIP).


    The effects of the lack of hugs in the Covid era are therefore beginning to be documented: a study being published shows that in America only in the first month of the lockdown was a widespread lack of physical contact and hugs generated which was accompanied by an overload of mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, as well as fatigue and sleep disturbances.

Conducted by Tiffany Field of the University of Miami in Florida, the study involved 260 adults, 60% of whom reported lack of loving physical contact.


    Another work just published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology and coordinated by Debby Herbenick of the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, shows that levels of depression and loneliness during the first wave of Covid-19 were increased.

Only those who maintained high levels of non-virtual but physical contact and high levels of social connection had better mental health.


    "Social restrictions remain necessary: ​​at this stage it is still impossible to ensure our non-cohabiting loved ones the usual gestures of affection, and it is clear that neither video calls nor messages can replace the real encounter between two people - underline di Giannantonio and Zanalda -. However, there are some precautions that we can adopt to make up for the lack of physical contact, stimulating touch in another way.


    A hot bath, for example, has a calming and reassuring effect, touching soft and comfortable fabrics like silk or having a massage feet induces pleasant sensations that make us feel better. If we feel pleasure through the contact of 'skin' with pleasant or warm materials, we can at least partially mitigate the lack of real closeness to other people ".

However, psychiatrists conclude, "physical contact should be sought and practiced when possible, for example with family members living together". 


Source: ansa

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