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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Isolation

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Your brain responds to stress differently when you’re by yourself

Credit: Justin Paget / Getty Images

This is a modified excerpt from Inside Your Head 🧠, a weekly newsletter exploring why your brain makes you think, feel, and act the way you do, written by me, Elemental’s senior writer and a former brain scientist. Subscribe here so you won’t miss the next one.


How the chatter about quarantine weight gain impacts those with disordered eating

Photo: kaipong/Getty Images

As the coronavirus has spread in the United States, our lives have changed drastically — in ways we likely never anticipated. Feeling scared, uncertain, frustrated, or even panicked are emotions appropriate to the underlying confusion and loss of control generated by the pandemic. It is, of course, natural to experience distress in response to a severe health threat. Some amount of anxiety can even be motivating — reminding us to wash hands, avoid crowds, or make alternative plans.


For young people whose developmental task is to connect with other people, the pandemic can feel like life is on pause

The silhouette of a young man looking outside a window alone.
The silhouette of a young man looking outside a window alone.
Photo: Sasha Freemind/Unsplash

During the pandemic there’s been plenty of public service announcements to check in on your elderly neighbors. Especially now, in an era of coronavirus-driven quarantines, they may be feeling isolated and alone.


Experts say widespread self-isolation and an unaffected supply of drugs and alcohol put many in recovery at risk of using again

Illustration: Sophi Gullbrants

Bob, from Long Island, is 34 and has spent more than a decade in a tug of war with addiction and mental illness. Periods of detox and treatment, he said, alternate with downward spirals into alcohol, cocaine, opiate, codeine, and hallucinogenic drug use and, more than once, attempted suicide.


The Nuance

Why spending time alone drives people nuts

Photo by Alessandro Vallainc on Unsplash

People who have been pent-up indoors with a flu or stranded in a deserted place have an inkling of the restlessness and unease known as “cabin fever,” or “going stir crazy.” Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining had a particularly nasty case — to put it mildly.

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