Written 6th April 2020.
Whilst the world is currently reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and people are dying in hospitals and homes all across the face of the globe, we will face another great challenge in the coming months. In the post COVID-19 world we will be facing a period of great uncertainty, fatigue, depression, substance use disorder, grief and burnout.
The problem of trauma is as old as we know, it is rapidly gaining more recognition in the mainstream pool of understanding. Many people probably have a level of trauma already but they aren’t recognizing it in their lives. Maybe they’re struggling with insomnia, finding themselves seeking drugs or alcohol, grappling with negative emotions and negative feelings.
Getting treatment for Trauma is crucial, trauma doesn’t magically go away by itself, once a condition like PTSD is activated it produces biological and psychological changes.
Pray You’ll Never Know the Hell Where Youth and Laughter Go.– S.Sassoon
Life can be very stressful, and certain events and situations can leave us feeling traumatized but it doesn’t always develop into PTSD, there is a difference.
In the 1970’s psychiatrists Thomas Homes and Richard Rahe developed the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale to determine the relationship between stressful evens and illnesses that patients had. They wanted to examine what stressful events had happened to a person before their admission to hospital over the six month prior to their admission. We know now that stressful events have a big part to play in harming the physiology of some patients but prior to this study there was no concrete understanding.
You can take a look at this Life Change stress Index here:
Trauma, or stress as it called in this instance, is episodic around circumstance. Most people would feel an increased level of stress. Post traumatic stress disorder is a disorder that lingers beyond stressful events. PTSD is a diagnosable condition.
What Causes PTSD Normally?
A brief look at the chart above and you can see that most PTSD cases are caused by human interaction, the information on the chart is a little outdated as I sourced it from a book from 2008, there have been better ways of classifying and describing trauma and PTSD developed in the last 10 years.
Will COVID-19 cause PTSD?
I’ve already spoken via the internet to an individual who had been diagnosed and treated for COVID-19. He was a male in his late 30’s. He described the symptoms of being incredibly anxious and worried, even now he states that he feels he may have some PTSD as a direct result of the virus (not possible to tell).
Via a facebook group I’ve engaged with some other survivors of the COVID-19 (SARS-2), the symptoms range a great deal, from near death experiences to flu-like symptoms. Several of those effected described the fever as having some type delirium which increased their anxiety.
It’s currently not measurable to see how this virus could cause PTSD, nothing in recent years has matched the scale of this pandemic. During the time of the Spanish Flu PTSD was not a condition the medical world was interested in. Prior to modern psychology incidents of PTSD where swept under the rug. In World War 1 PTSD was famously referred to “Shell-Shock”, but even prior to this an understanding was developing that people where experiencing panic disorders post tragedy. When trains began to crash in the 1800’s the survivors of these crashes, which were ghastly affairs, developed fears of trains and began to be struck with bouts of anxiety and lack of sleep.
What ever happens in a post COVID-19 world there is going to be a lot of work to do in order to get our lives back on track, many of us will have to deal with grief of losing someone very dear to us. It will require a great deal of cooperation and guidance in order to deal with the anxiety and trauma this has caused us all.
If you’re concerned about yourself or another person, it’s a good idea to become a bit more resilient now by following these following tips:
- Try and Eat Healthy, don’t give into the temptation of just eating junk food and take aways to comfort eat.
- Try and do some exercise, there are loads of good youtube videos displaying yoga techniques and other MMA or kickboxing exercises that could be done from home.
- Do some CBT, start a mood diary, get well versed with ABC technique that can help minimize cognitive distortions that lead to negative moods.
- Practice grounding exercises like meditation and breathing exercises. Transcendental mediation has shown to have very good efficacy for PTSD, but it’s not for everyone. https://www.integrativepractitioner.com/practice-management/news/transcendental-meditation
- Seek Professional Help. You don’t have to be a therapy veteran, but if you’re questioning yourself or finding yourself feeling anxious or mentally unwell then you should seek professional help by contacting a professional.
Dylan Kerr 2020