The Coronavirus pandemic has left a wake of devastation in its path with what seems like no foreseeable end in sight. It has created many challenges that have had to be faced and navigated. From social isolation, fear of being infected, to the unprecedented unemployment rates. At the onset of the pandemic, health experts also warned that individuals needed to remain vigilant when it came to their mental health.

Emotional scars from the coronavirus are expected to last long after the physical stress of infection ends, primarily in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many may not think that PTSD could be a byproduct of the pandemic as it is most commonly associated with soldiers returning from war. PTSD, however, is actually a chronic psychiatric disorder that can occur in anyone who has been exposed to a traumatic event.

After the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, healthcare workers and those who had to self-quarantine exhibited symptoms of PTSD. Current research is already indicating that their findings mirror those that emerged after SARS, where individuals who reported feeling more depressed and anxious were likely to be diagnosed with PTSD.

When it comes to the coronavirus, a key factor in whether or not someone will develop this long-lasting stress disorder will be their emotional response to the pandemic itself. The symptoms can develop at any time and are primarily driven by:

    • Anxiety over contracting the virus
    • Fear of dying from it
    • Social isolation
    • Guilt of infecting or harming others

In the long run, conventional approaches to diagnosing and treating PTSD as a result of the pandemic may not fully capture the nuances of mental health impacts. Modern-day has never experienced reactions such as panic buying, excessive avoidance, an uncertain timeline and has been unable to provide helpful ways of coping during self-isolation. This is also creating a huge burden on the mental health system as they develop strategies to address these issues. PTSD as it is known today is now becoming a new mental disorder thanks to the pandemic: Post-Covid Stress Disorder.

About the Author

Kimberly Sandberg Aloha Integrative Health
Kim Sandberg is the owner and founder of Aloha Integrative Health and a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. She has two advanced degrees: a Masters of Science in Nursing as a Nurse Anesthetist and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. She has worked in a variety of settings, though the biggest impact on Kim and her work came from her 28 years of service in the Navy Reserve.

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