The prevalence of mental health issues during the COVID pandemic has increased, as numerous studies have shown. Amongst the most common mental issues people are struggling with since the pandemic has started are depression and anxiety. But a part of the population has been experiencing seemingly unlikely symptoms of a disorder usually associated with war, car accidents, or violence: PTSD.
What Is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is common with people who have experienced extremely stressful events. For people struggling with PTSD, seemingly small things can trigger an intense negative response, affecting the victim’s life.
PTSD is a disorder that can be present if someone has been through or witnessed a traumatic event, such as natural disasters, catastrophic injuries, severe accidents, criminal acts, etc. For a long time, this disorder was associated with war veterans who were often diagnosed with it after returning from the battlefield.
PTSD and the COVID-19 Pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people experienced life-threatening symptoms that required medical treatment in ICU units. Particularly patients who were intubated manifest PTSD symptoms for as long as two years after being admitted to an ICU unit.
If you or someone you love went through a long period of treatment in an ICU unit, or if you lost someone because of COVID-19, you might develop PTSD as a response to that trauma. Unfortunately, PTSD does not simply go away in time and, in fact, it can get worse, which is why it’s extremely important to identify it correctly and get mental health treatment as soon as you can.
Signs of PTSD
Below is a list of the most common signs of PTSD. If you have experienced trauma related to the pandemic, try to acknowledge the recent signs of mental health issues and even keep a journal of your moods, emotions, reactions to everyday events. Notice the reactions that you wouldn’t normally have or some that others noticed first.
- Having flashbacks of the traumatic event.
- Reacting with strong negative emotions to things that remind you of the event.
- Avoiding talking, remembering, or being reminded of the event.
- Feeling detached, hopeless, emotionally numb, negative.
- Having trouble in your relationships, noticing their degradation after the event.
- Sleep issues, nightmares, insomnia.
- Irrational physical reactions to otherwise normal stimuli: twitching, panic attacks, being startled, etc.
- “Fight-or-flight” mechanism triggered by small things.
- Going on a path of substance abuse or other coping mechanisms.
- Not feeling safe anymore.
As mentioned before, PTSD does not get better in time and it can be aggravated if left untreated, which is why learning about it early can make your recovery much easier and faster.
How to Diagnose and Treat PTSD
If you have been experiencing more of all of the symptoms above for more than a month, contact a mental health specialist. If you have suicidal thoughts, contact emergency services and get help right away.
PTSD is diagnosed by your doctor through a physical exam, a psychological evaluation, and the criteria in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Once it’s established that you have PTSD, your treatment plan can start.
Treatment for PTSD can include:
Psychotherapy – therapy can help you cope with the traumatic event you’ve been through by teaching you how to apply healthy coping methods, how to process the event and your emotions, and how to respond to stimuli that trigger your PTSD.
Medication – depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medication such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and other substances that can control your symptoms.
Alternative treatments – acupuncture, meditation, and other alternative treatments could improve the results of your treatment, as long as they don’t harm you or replace your prescribed treatment.
A support system – a very important part of your recovery is to have your loved ones encourage and support you, by first understanding your condition and reacting properly to it. You can also attend support groups where other people with PTSD support each other throughout their recovery.
Need Help With PTSD?
If you or a loved one are experiencing any symptoms that seem to link with having PTSD, contact the Dr. Quintal and Associates Counseling Center today. Our team is trained and experienced enough to correctly diagnose PTSD or other mental issues you might be struggling with and will put together an efficient treatment plan that will help you overcome this difficult time.
During the COVID pandemic, we work with very strict safety measures and we provide psychotherapy and counseling exclusively online, to prevent any risk of contracting the virus.
Contact us to get a free consultation that would determine the next steps in your rehabilitation.