Saturday, July 11, 2020

Mentally immune to the corona low: Productive attitude helps

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Al’ll be fine. What a phrase. Especially now. Many will think: It has rarely been as out of place as in this time when we experience more fear, hate or hysteria every day. And yet: Why shouldn’t it really be okay? Why share doubts and not confidence? Let’s call it the Merkel method. Admittedly, the soul tank that the Chancellor bought and that lay like an impenetrable infection shield over the Republic for weeks, ultimately broke with the lockdown theater. The pressure was just too great in the end. But the impression of steadfastness remains.

Joachim Müller-Jung

Editor in the feature section, responsible for the “Nature and Science” department.

So the political dynamics and less the Covid 19 stress has brought about a turn that has been palpable on the streets since the weekend. It is not only conspiracy theorists and political confused who are rioting unprotected. Rather, the feelings go through with many. It is fatal: the stress of isolation forms an ominous psychic amalgam with the uncertainty about your own danger and your personal future. The immune system of the soul, the experts speak of resilience, seems to be over the limit.

For the scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research in Mainz, this is an opportunity to find out more about the factors and mechanisms that prevent us from becoming mentally ill in extreme situations. What are the protective factors that harden us and vaccinate us mentally? And how much stress is just bearable? Such questions follow the psychiatric and neurobiological question, which is still difficult to answer, why some get sick under stress, but others don’t.

The researchers led by scientific directors Klaus Lieb and Beat Lutz have now launched half a dozen studies. Internationally, the wires to people in their own four “laboratory” walls have been hot in the past few weeks. In the European “Dynacore” study, for example, an online study in which fifteen thousand quarantine participants have already participated, the Mainz group led by Raffael Kalisch and Oliver Tüscher provides the first cautious information. In further longitudinal studies, the psychological reactions are to be understood even better, especially when the consequences of the crisis are to be dealt with. Five thousand questionnaires were evaluated for the first pre-publication in “psyArXiv”. Corona-specific stress factors are therefore: being locked in and restricted leisure activities, as well as the hype of information about the Corona crisis. “Most of the psychological stress in the lockdown was increased”, psychiatrist Klaus Lieb sums up the interim results, “but not everyone suffered by a long way.”

Health workers and migrants in particular had difficulties in the first few weeks Process stress and fears. Most others found a way to cope with their own situation. A “positive evaluation style”, as Tüscher describes it, which the Mainz resilience researchers are convinced is the most important key for a strong psychological immune defense. What that means? At least not to fall into blind optimism or to fool yourself. Taking a “productive stance” and looking positively into the future pays off. However, because this is not given to everyone equally, the future of resilience research will be to find out what this inner attitude can promote. Apps, hotlines, courses, therapy sessions – a lot is currently conceivable that would be compatible with the Merkel method.

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