A Canadian coronavirus winter is looming — and it could 'amplify loneliness'

globalnews.ca
6 min read
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The ability to be outdoors has provided safer alternatives to exercise, recreation, commuting and dining, among other things. In the winter, those options will dwindle.
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Snow shoveling, frosty commutes, and long dark days. They're things Canadians might not want to think about just yet.

It's only September, of course. So there's still time to sit on a patio and in a park, bike and hike trails, and enjoy a sunset on a lake — all things doable during a pandemic in the summer.

But winter is coming and, according to experts, so too is the accompanying seasonal woes. And this time, it will be "amplified" by the confines of the coronavirus, according to Roger McIntyre, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Toronto.

"There's a real concern about the amplification of loneliness," McIntyre told Global News.

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"An epidemic of loneliness long preceded this pandemic. And just by the nature of winter, people are less likely to come in contact with others. It's a realistic concern."

Since March, Canadians have been told to stay apart to stop the spread of the virus. The ability to be outdoors has provided safer alternatives to exercise, recreation, commuting and dining, among other things.

In the winter, those options will dwindle. Experts have warned the risk of transmission also increases indoors.

"I think we're looking at a layering effect on mental health," McIntyre said.

2:05 Pandemic taking toll on mental health but virtual one-on-one counselling reporting good success Pandemic taking toll on mental health but virtual one-on-one counselling reporting good success

"The public health crisis alone is enough to cause post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and even suicide. Add on the tremendous economic impact on people and the malignant uncertainty of the pandemic with winter — I think you have a combustible mix."

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