Afraid to Interact After Isolation? You Might Have ‘Hut Syndrome’

With the advance of the Covid-19 vaccination and drop in the number of deaths, returning to bars, cinemas and restaurants has become the routine of many. But, not everyone feels comfortable resuming these activities, and visiting the old places of social interaction has generated heightened anxiety.

The phenomenon is not uncommon and has been accentuated by the quarantine and long periods of social isolation over the past two years, according to Ana Paula Carvalho, master of psychiatry at the Escola Paulista de Medicina at Unifesp.

Trauma experienced during the pandemic, such as the death of a loved one or hospitalization, can also trigger this discomfort.


In addition to a feeling of “I don’t want to be here,” the person tends to exhibit symptoms of pain, suffering, and even characteristics similar to those of an anxiety and stress attack. A social phobia can also appear together, in which the individual no longer knows how to behave with the people around him.

“The isolation may have generated repulsion precisely because the person experienced traumatic events. It can also affect anyone more vulnerable and, without realizing it, is exacerbated by the fear of death, hindering the return to the old life ”, explains Ana Claudia Zani Ramos, psychologist and specialist in neuroscience and behavior at Mackenzie University.

Social anxiety can turn into a serious illness

One of the most serious forms of social isolation is “hut syndrome”. Although it is not classified as a disease, it is a phenomenon that causes intense fear related to interaction with people.

The condition was observed and given this name in the 20th century, when North American workers spent long periods in shacks and, when they returned to social life, showed symptoms of anxiety.

Currently, the syndrome is linked to the fear of leaving the home, and the person has difficulty taking this step on their own. Symptoms of aggression and panic are also associated. “She loses track of time and is confused,” adds the psychologist. With the influence of the pandemic, the signs may be linked to over-care with cleaning and other sanitary measures.

How to recognize the problem and seek help

If fear and discomfort interferes with a person’s daily life, they can be diagnosed with social anxiety or even cabin syndrome. One way to approach the problem is to compare past behavior with current behavior.

If in the past people were more outgoing, liked to go out and had no problem with it, and today they are introspective and have difficulty relating to others, it may be a sign of unrest.

To turn the situation around, the first move is to create a routine – even indoors – as if you were going to work or other social activities. It is also essential to see friends or people close to you, but with the care that the current time of the pandemic demands.

It is also recommended to seek help from psychiatrists and psychologists to develop appropriate treatment. Thanks to psychotherapy, it is possible to perform exercises and other activities that allow normalization of social life in a light and natural way. The doctor may also prescribe anxiolytics and other medications to reduce behavioral symptoms, if necessary.

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