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COVID-19 has been stressful for everyone. People are dealing with the uncertainty, anxiety, and depression of this pandemic in different ways. Recent news updates and the constant changes have led many to wonder what kind of mental health effects COVID-19 is having on people. For some, it’s the constant worry about their jobs, while for others it’s the grief of losing a loved one to the illness. In fact, many of us are at risk for developing long-term stress and mental health concerns in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Here at Brain Forest Centers, we see plenty of patients with PTSD. Many people assume that PTSD can only be caused by violence or service in the military, but even a global pandemic can cause it. For some, the warning signs of PTSD stemming from COVID-19 aren’t as visible, but they’re crystal clear for others.
Who is at Risk?
The short answer: Everyone. Anyone who has experienced some level of trauma can develop PTSD. One of the most recent examples similar to the COVID-19 pandemic was the 2003 SARS outbreak. In fact, studies in the following years found that healthcare workers and people who chose to self-quarantine to avoid the illness showed warning signs of the condition for up to three years afterward.
Studies coming out of Wuhan, China, the epicenter for the COVID-19 outbreak, show that of 714 patients discharged after a hospital quarantine, 96.2% of them show severe signs of PTSD. Even doctors and nurses on the frontlines of this illness are susceptible to depression and insomnia associated with trauma and stress. There is no single person who hasn’t been affected by the virus who won’t or can’t experience some level of anxiety and depression. These warning signs of PTSD from COVID-19 may linger for many years to come.
Warning Signs to Look For
Do you think you’re living with PTSD stemming from COVID-19? While an official diagnosis is required, you might be able to tell that your mood has changed; you’re anxious all the time, and you’re finding it challenging to go about your normal daily routine. Not everyone’s symptoms will appear the same, but some of the most obvious warning signs of PTSD stemming from COVID-19 include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Having trouble concentrating
- Having intrusive thoughts, memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
- Feeling irritable
- Being hypervigilant or startling easily
- Suppressing feelings of stress
- Becoming reckless
- Refusing to leave the house
Some people are also experiencing:
- Unusual tempers
- High levels of anxiety
While we’re all dealing with COVID-19 in our own ways, there is some good news for those who need help with PTSD. It is treatable, and the primary treatment is usually psychotherapy. Talking about your experience with a professional can help get the feelings and emotions out of your head and allow you to think clearly about the situation.
However, if traditional therapy methods aren’t working for you and you’re looking for something more, you might also try one of the following:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT is what we do here at Brain Forest Centers. We aim to help individuals recognize and replace their negative thought patterns and behaviors with more constructive and positive ones. This can help you clear your mind and navigate away from the “stuck” feeling you might be experiencing because of COVID.
- Exposure Therapy – Exposure therapy is used to help people face a disturbing memory or situation. Some therapists choose to use virtual reality settings and programs to help the individual safely return to the environment that caused them the trauma. They then walk them through the steps necessary to face their fear and conquer the memory.
- Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocess (EMDR) – EMDR is a combination of exposure therapy and guided eye movements to help individuals process and understand traumatic events or memories. This therapy helps people change their reaction to the trauma, which provides the brain with an alternative solution and leaves the individual feeling empowered.
Get Your Free Consultation
Don’t let depression and anxiety control your life, even during a global pandemic. The warning signs of PTSD stemming from COVID-19 vary from person to person and so do the treatment options, which is why you need a specialized team and a custom plan to help you retrain your brain and put it back into a healthy, normal state. Schedule your free consultation online or give us a call at (317) 288-9828.