This is Your Brain on Quarantine... and How to Cope

"Why do I feel so anxious all the time when I'm just safe in my home? Other people have it so much worse. I should be fine." Certainly, if you're able to work from home during COVID-19 in quarantine, there's a lot to be grateful for. At the same time, there may be a nagging unease, anxiety, and a sense of helplessness. There's a number of reasons that being in quarantine may feel anxiety-provoking or even traumatizing to your brain.




Fight, Flight or Freeze

Your brain's job is to keep you safe. The amygdala, in particular, functions as a threat detector, and it's great at it. When the amygdala detects a threat, it signals your body to go into Fight, Flight or Freeze mode. Your body prepares to fight back, run away, or stop and hide. Quarantine and shelter-in-place puts us closest to the Freeze mode of responding to the threat. While the Freeze option is most logical choice in this situation, it also feels the worst. The Freeze response can feel like helplessness and powerlessness, even when it's the best choice. Research shows that a Freeze response during a traumatic event is the most associated with developing PTSD symptoms when the event is over. This is true even if it's the best choice for survival.