When the pandemic narrowed the world, Jonathan Hirshon stopped traveling, eating out, going to cocktail parties and commuting to the office.
What a relief.
Mr. Hirshon experiences severe social anxiety. Even as he grieved the pandemic’s toll, he found lockdown life to be a respite.
Now, with public life about to resume, he finds himself with decidedly mixed feelings — “anticipation, dread and hope.”
Mr. Hirshon, a 54-year-old public relations consultant, is one of numerous people who find the everyday grind not only wearing, but also emotionally unsettling. That includes people with clinical diagnoses of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, and also some run-of-the-mill introverts.
A new survey from the American Psychological Association found that while 47 percent of people have seen their stress rise over the pandemic, about 43 percent reported no change in stress and 7 percent said they felt less stress.
Mental health experts said that this portion of the population found lockdown measures protective, a sort of permission to glide into more predictable spaces, schedules, routines and relationships. And experts say that while the lockdown periods have blessed the “avoidance” of social situations, the circumstances are poised to change.
“I am very worried about many of my socially anxious patients,” said Andrea Maikovich-Fong, a psychologist in Denver. That anxiety, she said, “is going to come back with a vengeance when the world opens up.”