Updated: Feb 3
COVID-19 is a globally-based public health emergency that resulted in physical health issues and psychological difficulties as most of the people got exposed to unnatural deaths or recovered from the disease close to death. For example, healthcare workers who work in close association with COVID-19 patients get direct exposure to this virus repeatedly, however, they also witness an increase in disease, death as well as having to tackle the shortage of supplies. Additionally, patients who are admitted to hospitals due to COVID-19 infection experience isolation, lots of physical trauma or discomfort, and a constant fear related to their survival. These repeated exposures gradually increase a person’s risk for the development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Also, this risk may undergo an increase during the following weeks as the health care workers might be lacking social support as self-quarantine is required.
To provide a diagnosis of "post-traumatic stress disorder", one's doctor might do a physical examination, perform psychological evaluation by discussing and evaluating one's signs and/or symptoms, and by applying criteria as defined in American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”.
What is PTSD?
“Post-traumatic stress disorder” or PTSD is a mental health issue that is triggered by any adverse event by either experiencing or by being a witness. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, presence of severe anxiety along with uncontrolled thoughts regarding any particular event.
Most of the people addressing traumatic events might be having temporary problems in adjustment as well as coping mechanisms, however, with time as well as adequate self-care, these can usually turn better. If there is worsening of symptoms, these may be lasting for several months or even years and may cause interference with one’s daily functioning. On getting effective therapy following the development of symptoms of PTSD, there is the reduction of symptoms along with improvement in functions.
How do individuals who have recovered from COVID 19 infections develop PTSD?
The outbreak of COVID-19 infection that subsequently resulted in a lockdown led to the development of distress in the general population in various countries which has caused various psychological issues among the caregivers, healthcare workers, and patients as well. Remaining isolated during the lock-down period and related loneliness might be playing a crucial role in this condition. Various individual factors that might affect the development of psychological issues have categorized the affected people as per their physical make-up and coping capabilities as a) high, b) medium and c) low-risk for developing psychology-related symptoms that are mainly anxiety as well as depression. Depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders have been found to develop in individuals who are diagnosed to be infected with COVID-19 and while being admitted in hospital however, anxiety can persist following recovery from disease.
A person's response to the COVID-19 situation might be analogous to one’s responsiveness towards natural disasters or any other catastrophic event that affects a large population and may be causing permanent damage to an affected group or population. Psychological or psychiatric results of these large disasters may last for a long duration as 12 years. Psychological responsiveness to the COVID-19 situation in worse hit populations or areas is very much similar to one’s observed in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. In a similar manner, individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and have survived are highly likely to demonstrate symptoms of PTSD. Patients suffering from COVID-19 have been shown to report numerous symptoms of PTSD and depression.
What can be done to help these patients to recover from PTSD?
After recovering from COVID-19, which in itself is a traumatic episode, most individuals who have recovered show symptoms of PTSD inability in discontinuation of thought process which involves the disease. An affected person with PTSD shows feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, depression, feeling of guilt. Hence, availing of help on time and providing any form of support can prevent the development of stress from getting any worse and progressing into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This means support from family and friends often offers emotional comfort. One can also take help from a professional who deals with one’s mental health for a short duration of therapy while few individuals can even choose to ask for help from their faith-based community services. Thus, seeking any type of support from any other source might help in preventing one to adopt unhealthy methods for coping, for example, misusing alcohol and drugs.
If any known person who is close to us is suffering from PTSD following COVID19 treatment and is in self-isolation, they can be provided with various types of treatments for PTSD that are found. There are various psychiatric drugs which include antidepressants, prazosin, along with various types of cognitive-behavioral psycho-therapy related exercises that involve emotional processing of isolation-related emotional trauma that may include extended therapy related to exposure, desensitization of eye movements along with re-programming and CBT focused on trauma. Other types of psychotherapies that do not involve direct processing of trauma are also very helpful, for example, cognitive processing therapy, interpersonal therapy, present-centered therapy, and mindfulness-based therapies.
A person diagnosed with PTSD must try spending quality time with other individuals such as any trustworthy friend or any relative with whom one can share and confide their feelings. One can share with his friends, family, or attending physician about various factors that can cause triggering off their symptoms related to PTSD. After following this emotional and professional guidance, one can gradually expect improvement in the symptoms, however, one must not be able to immediately cope up with these symptoms. Thus, one must constantly work by identifying and seeking out various situations, sites, and individuals who can help in providing mental comfort. Thus, providing self-care is very important.
How can our services assist PTSD-affected patients recovering from COVID 19?
Our professional services may help people suffering from PTSD during recovery from COVID19 by providing talk-based therapies that help in teaching people various helpful methods towards reacting to any exposure to COVID19 related news or information which can cause triggering symptoms of PTSD.
Other types of professionally sought therapies help by
a) teaching one regarding the infection-related trauma and its associated side-effects
b) making use of various relaxation-based techniques and skills dealing with the control of anger
c) providing useful hints that can help in getting good quality sleep, modifications in one’s diet, and adopting useful habits of exercising
d) assisting these affected people to identify and face their anxieties and
e) focusing on altering people’s reaction to symptoms of PTSD.
Thus, if you are facing issues regarding COVID19 induced PTSD, our professional service can provide you with a doctor who can discuss various options of available treatment, by helping you in suggesting some form of mild physical activity and exercise which can help in combating stress, by helping one in setting realistic aims, by guiding you to break large tasks into smaller ones, by the setting of priorities and perform as much as possible within one’s limits.