PTSD from the Coronavirus Pandemic

Your typical day is likely radically different than even a month ago, due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). With social distancing and home-isolation now commonplace, many people find themselves spending significantly more time inside than before. Furthermore, news coverage about new infections and facts relating to the spread of the virus is hard to escape. With this change in lifestyle comes the rise of stressors, including anxiety and PTSD.

Defining PTSD in Today’s World

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to a mental health problem that can arise after experiencing a traumatic event. In this case, the trauma is the coronavirus outbreak.

This distressing experience is one that is occurring on a global scale. While it can be tough to fathom that you are living through this type of event, the potential psychological effects cannot be ignored.

With trauma comes a personal feeling of powerlessness that compromises your ability to cope. PTSD could develop in several ways, including a loved one suddenly dying from the coronavirus.

Alternatively, you might see an image related to COVID-19 online that shocks you or feel that you or a loved one is vulnerable to the threat of the infection. While the source varies, as does the intensity of the feelings, these experiences of different people all share the same perceived threat: the coronavirus.

The Progression to PTSD

During the coronavirus pandemic, those who work in healthcare are in situations daily that put their physical health at risk and threatens their mental health. As they start to process the daily stressors and remember things they had not seen before, many of them may end up with post-traumatic stress disorder.

For the rest of the population, the lifestyle change is significant, moving to primarily home-based, which increases feelings of isolation. A significant percentage also face job loss and potentially losing homes, other possessions, and an overall sense of control.

Even for those who do not get the virus, the threat of being exposed to it remains real in many peoples’ minds. Each of those things alone can be traumatic and, when taken together, may account for cases of PTSD in the future.

What to Do Now for PTSD Prevention

The following strategies can help you cope with your emotions to combat the development of post-traumatic stress disorder due to the coronavirus. Start by making a routine for your day, including changing out of your pajamas and brushing your hair to help you feel normal and encourage productivity.

Also, maintain connections with loved ones using technology in place of in-person interactions. The interactions by phone, text, email, social media and video software can provide a feeling of connection. As well, voicing any distressing thoughts and getting advice or simply an ear to listen are helpful.

Lastly, limit how much you watch the news and read about the coronavirus as doing so can trigger sadness, anger, and worry. While staying informed is important to prevent feelings of powerlessness during COVID-19, what’s equally important is focusing on positive things, including what you are thankful for today and self-care activities like meditation.

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