Hut Syndrome: Fear of coming out of quarantine

Many Italians at this time are experiencing fear and anxiety at the idea of ​​coming out of confinement. To the point that they would rather stay at home. This psychological phenomenon is not new. Let's see what it consists of and with what strategies it can be tackled.

Hut Syndrome: Fear of coming out of quarantine

Fear of the idea of ​​going out on the street again. Anxiety of having to resume our commitments outside the home. The feeling that at home we have everything we need and that, at this point, nothing changes if we extend the quarantine by a few weeks ... This emotional dimension in psychology is called the hut syndrome and, curiously, it is affecting a large number of people.

Does it surprise you? Who among us can't wait to get back in touch with the real world, the street, the sunlight and the warmth of the city or neighborhood? Yet, in practice, hundreds of people feel overwhelmed by a feeling of anguish at the mere idea of ​​crossing the threshold of the house.

The first thing to clarify is that this is a normal reaction: it is not a psychological disorder . Having spent so many weeks isolated has accustomed our brains to that security that we only find between the four walls of the home.

dominant eye left right hand

To this we must add another consideration: the Coronavirus has not disappeared. The risk of contagion is still present and it is understandable that the fear of getting sick increases insecurity and the fear of going out. The hut syndrome, or cabin fever in English, it is an experience already described at the beginning of the twentieth century. Let's see what it is.

Cabin syndrome, house surrounded by nature

What is the hut syndrome?

The first clinical descriptions of the hut syndrome date back to 1900, the era of the gold rush in the United States. The prospectors were forced to spend whole months inside a hut.

The isolation, dictated by the need to concentrate the activity in certain periods of the year, made its effects felt: refusal to return to civilization, distrust of others , stress and anxiety.

children doing homework

A symptom picture common also in lighthouse keepers, before automation, and which is well suited to the current quarantine situation. Psychologists have therefore dusted off the hut syndrome to explain the reality that many people are experiencing right now. But what is cabin fever?

How to recognize the hut syndrome?

  • One of the most common symptoms is lethargy . It is typical of this condition to feel tired, with numb arms and legs, need for long naps, and difficulty getting up in the morning.
  • You may experience cognitive symptoms such as difficulty concentrating and poor memory .
  • Demotivation.
  • Craving for certain foods to calm anxiety.
  • The hut syndrome often manifests itself with a specific emotional picture : sadness, fear, anguish, frustration.
  • The most obvious feature, on the other hand, is the fear of going out , which is often disguised. Those who suffer from this syndrome limit themselves to expressing little desire to go out because they feel good at home, where there is everything they need.

Fear of returning to normal. What to do?

The hut syndrome is more widespread than you think, so much so that Peking University has already developed a scale to evaluate its incidence.

It is certainly not a comfortable feeling, especially in a chorus of people who bite the brake to recover their life, normality, the possibility of going out. It is therefore important to understand and respect the attitude of those who, at this moment, do not wait with pleasure for the phase in which we can reconnect with the outside world. Here are some useful strategies to follow.

proverb do not do that to others

Give yourself time, the sensations experienced are understandable

As we said, hut syndrome is not a psychological disorder. It simply describes a normal emotional situation after a context of isolation that lasted several weeks. Therefore, do not feed fear and anxiety with the thought of having lost control of the situation. The emotions you feel are completely understandable.

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The solution is to give yourself time. It is not mandatory to go out today if you don't want to. You can proceed in small steps. Start by arriving at the front door, open it without going out. Tomorrow you can take a few steps and go back. When you are ready, you can take a walk.

Habits and goals

The brain needs routines to manage time, feel safe and not give too much space to rumination . To reduce the effects of the hut syndrome, try to reduce the time of rest, especially avoiding spending many hours in bed or taking long naps.

Establish a routine and stick to it. Divide the day into moments of work or house cleaning, time for healthy eating and exercise. And, most importantly, set a time when you will leave the house.

Walk along the path to the park

Seek support if you feel the need

When the idea of ​​leaving the house terrifies and does not tend to relieve itself, it is important to ask for help . If you feel that it is impossible for you to walk through the door or that simply imagining yourself on the street causes you anxiety, you may want to seek professional help.

We are experiencing an unprecedented situation and in these months we will have to face multiple psychological challenges. We need to be prepared, become more sensitive, more human and be close to others so that we can overcome this crisis together.

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  • Wen Cong, Chin. (2020). Cabin Fever Scale: CFS. 10.13140/RG.2.2.13351.29606/3.