These are truly strange times. As of this writing, I have barely seen anyone other than my live-in partner for about seven months. When I had to go in for a physical exam, labs, and a flu shot at my primary care physician’s office (because I was many months overdue and they refused to refill my migraine meds until I came in and proved to them I was still alive), I was so starved for social interaction that I basically lapsed into a stand-up comedy routine when presented with new people. It was bizarre.
This level of isolation is not normal for me. Despite being a writer (which tends to make people think that I’m introverted), I’m actually a fairly extroverted person. I love going out and doing things. Being social.
I’ve been weirdly okay. And strangely, my more introverted live-in partner has had a harder time with lockdown. That seemed weird to me and backwards. But today I stumbled onto a new study that indicates that this seemingly paradoxical pattern is quite usual.
Social Distancing and Lockdown Isolation Are NOT Easier on Introverts
This study found that introverted participants actually reported experiencing more feelings of anxiety and depression due to the pandemic-attendant social distancing and lockdown measures than extroverted ones. Among US-based respondents, introverts also reported increased levels of loneliness relative to extroverts.
In the study’s discussion section, the authors speculate that introverts may be at higher risk because previous studies have found them to be less likely to seek help when they need it and to have greater psychological problems at baseline.
And a Final Note About Living With Others Versus Living Alone
Here, too, is another interesting gem from the study’s discussion section:
Specifically, living with others (vs. living alone) was associated with experiencing more cognitive impairments and anxiety as a function of COVID19-related circumstantial changes. Adjacently, it was observed that COVID19-related loneliness and depressive symptoms were not predicted by living condition. Interpreted together, it is possible that close human affiliation serves as a protective buffer against social disconnectedness and low mood during the COVID19 pandemic, but works in the opposite direction for clarity of thought and keeping calm.
This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.