Social Isolation: How it Affected Our Brains

Valerie Mora, Editor-In-Chief

COVID-19 has abruptly forced almost everyone into a long period of social isolation, and humans do not  typically do well in these situations since they are such social creatures. Students, teachers, and staff are all going through similar situations at the moment, but everyone has different experiences and perspectives.


Social isolation often affects humans in ways such as depression, elevated anxiety, and paranoia, (How Social Isolation Affects the Brain, Catherine Offrod).  Long term effects are, decline in cognitive function, and illnesses such as dementia.  Although social isolation can affect people in different ways depending on personality.


Student, Samantha Graves, 12 is one of many students who have been affected by quarantine. She has experienced many of the symptoms of social isolation including anxiety and depression. Being usually around people helps her escape from such feelings, as with most people, but now because of social distancing and quarantine, it is a bit harder to get the company of friends.


“I definitely have felt the effects of anxiety, depression, and stress this year that I hadn’t dealt with as severely before,” Graves stated. “The normal way I would release my stress and anxiety were through seeing my friends, but obviously this isn’t possible right now, so it’s been difficult.”


Teachers have also struggled with being away from their students for so long and learning an entirely new way to teach. Mrs. Carlson, english teacher and AP advisor, experienced the abrupt loneliness that went from seeing hundreds of students every day in person to almost none at all in a matter of days. 


“It was crazy to say the least.  It was also very lonely . . . I teach because I enjoy being around teenagers, not alone at my kitchen table.  The first few weeks I still came into school a few times a week just to feel more normal,” Carlson stated. “There has also been times of stress, especially the not knowing . . . and the continual learning of new technology.  For an old person – I think I’m doing pretty okay, but it hasn’t been without a lot of blood, sweat and tears so to speak.”


Mrs. Hernandez, campus Safety Assistant, is well known among students for her bright personality. She has found it really hard being away from her students for so long and was affected tremendously by not being able to see their smiling faces everyday. 


“I have been working in a school setting for over thirty years and I possess a high level energy of passion for students,” Hernandez said. “ I was affected tremendously by not seeing my 4,000+ students and the parents as well and not being able to greet or see their smiles, honk their vehicle horns and wave at me.” 

Teachers, students, and staff are all struggling with the social isolation but, hopefully everything will return to normal as soon as possible. In the future hopefully teachers, students and Downey staff can see each other once again safely.