The coronavirus has infected people worldwide and, while preventative measures are being taken, some cases have taken a serious turn. The sudden death of a loved one from the disease can be not only shocking, but emotionally devastating for the surviving family and friends. As a survivor, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and not even realize it. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this mental health condition can help you cope during this difficult time.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop after experiencing a traumatic loss, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one from the coronavirus. In addition to the grief that most survivors experience after the death of someone close, the suddenness of the death is often difficult to process.
The strong emotions and challenging thoughts, such as replaying the event in your mind again and again, can put you at risk for developing PTSD. While you may overcome the initial shock of the traumatic death, the symptoms of the mental illness may continue for a longer time – months and even years later – if left untreated.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms
Someone with PTSD may find themselves re-experiencing the trauma from the death related to COVID-19, whether it be through flashbacks, disconcerting thoughts, or nightmares. They may also feel emotionally numb and avoid reminders of the incident, such as where the last breath was taken.
Other common symptoms are having problems getting to sleep or staying asleep, as well as being prone to irritability and anger more easily and more often than before, due to a feeling of helplessness. The unexpected passing can also leave you feeling like it might not have happened. These symptoms can affect a person at any age.
How to Deal with PTSD
Following the traumatic experience, you may need help to, firstly, fully process what occurred, and, over time, get through the grieving process. The best intervention is not a cookie-cutter formula, but instead is what meets your unique needs and comfort level.
Coping strategies to consider are talking with a therapist, family member, or friend. By speaking aloud your thoughts, you can begin to work through the feelings attached to them, and the conversations can help you gain a new sense of perspective about the experience.
Group therapy is another option whereby you meet with others who have PTSD. Feeling less alone in your struggles is a significant benefit here, as is learning what methods others find helpful, or less so, to manage the toughest moments in their day.
Perhaps the most difficult but most important part of the healing process is accepting what you are feeling, even when it is an intense and uncomfortable emotion, rather than denying it. Working through those emotionally charged episodes can help you fully process the traumatic loss of a family member or friend due to the coronavirus.
Final Words on Healing from PTSD
Overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder won’t happen within a day, week, or likely even a month. And the memory will not vanish. But finding effective coping strategies will help you to move forward while keeping the loved one in your heart always.