With lockdowns of various kinds in different states and a lack of certainty about the future, many people feel more isolated now than ever. You may be a person who needs a lot of socializing or someone more comfortable alone. Still, even for the loners among us, this isn’t easy.

Worse, in a survey from 2018, Americans reported they had already reached the highest levels of loneliness recorded. This was before the pandemic. What are some of the effects you might feel while enduring lockdown?

Anxiety and Depression
For those who suffer from depression and anxiety, they can struggle with keeping and maintaining relationships even in regular times. If you are prone to disengaging because of mental health problems, you might be likely to intensify that behavior.

Even if you weren’t depressed and anxious before the pandemic, too much isolation could put a person at risk. Keep track of where you are mentally and don’t fear to ask for help if you feel depressed.

Effects of Isolation
Before the pandemic, studies were made about loneliness and isolation, especially among older populations. What they found was scary. People who are isolated have trouble learning new things as easily. If they were not depressed before, they might fall into depression and anxiety. A decreased sense of reality is another effect of long periods away from others, especially if you delve too far into media to keep yourself entertained.

The possible effects aren’t just mental; they can be physical.

What Can You Do?
You can fight loneliness and isolation even during a pandemic. If you have friends and family you usually meet with, you can still stay in contact using Zoom or Skype, your phone, or many other ways. Even playing video games together could work.

You can also choose to take low-risk behaviors like meeting friends outside while maintaining a distance between you. The CDC doesn’t recommend gatherings, even in parks or open spaces, but experts also know the effects of isolation. If you do decide to risk meeting a friend, you can stay outside, keep distance and wear a mask. Still, there is no perfectly safe way to interact right now. If you’re in a high-risk group or around high-risk individuals, it’s safer to avoid physically meeting others.

Everyone has to balance what is right for them, with what is right for others and society. Try to keep your friends and loved ones you have. Don’t let the increased stress drive you away from the ones you’re already close to.