Bringing Awareness to PTSD During COVID-19
National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day was June 27, and COVID-19 brings new attention to this disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war or combat, rape or other violent personal assault – or significant personal work with a pandemic
Lasting Effects of COVID
Research regarding mental health during coronavirus suggests the effects of PTSD can weigh heavy on adults and that many will experience PTSD during and after COVID-19 is under control. Even if you are not clinically diagnosed with PTSD, you may have a strong emotional reaction to the trauma from becoming ill from or caring for someone with COVID-19. You may work closely with the disease in healthcare, as a first responder or in another job that puts you at risk. Even if you are not directly affected by COVID-19, its changes in daily life can still be a significant stressor. The stress can impact you over time, even if you do not realize it.
Chad Lennon, MD, a psychiatrist who practices at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center notes that fear, worry and uncertainty are normal in a pandemic. “We are in an unprecedented time right now and most people are not sure how to feel. It’s easy to ignore how we feel when we are dealing with something we have never experienced before, and the aftereffects can be detrimental.”
Tips to Help Cope with Effects of PTSD
Dr. Lennon recommends the following tips to help you feel more at ease while coping with PTSD:
- Have open and honest discussions about your feelings with someone you feel comfortable talking to
- Make time unwind and to enjoy the activities you love
- Self-care is very important during this time, including getting help from a therapist or counselor
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media
Actively applying these tips will help ease the symptoms of PTSD and help you to overcome added anxiety and stress that can be brought on by coronavirus. Dr. Lennon believes “the stress, anxiety and PTSD many will face is a real problem—but with encouragement, support and counseling, we can support those who are dealing with aftereffects of the virus.”
If you or a loved one is experiencing or showing symptoms of PTSD such as intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood and changes in physical and emotional reactions, call 800-204-8600 to schedule a consultation with the behavioral health team at Shady Grove Medical Center. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.