As the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 lockdown passes, people continue to experience grief in more ways than one. The death of loved ones, stress from sudden job loss and cancelled travel plans are the tip of the iceberg.
Recent studies are revealing the traumatic effects the pandemic is having on recovered COVID-19 patients and uninfected people alike.
COVID-19 Patients & Trauma
While brain fog and shortness of breath have been the most prevalent symptoms for recovered COVID-19 patients, they aren’t the only long-lasting ones.
A 2020 study found that out of 402 COVID-19 patients from San Raffaele hospital in Milan, Italy, nearly 55 percent of the recovered patients reported having a mental disorder. Anxiety was the most prevalent, appearing in 42% of the cases, with depression (31%) and post-traumatic stress disorder (28%) following closely behind.
Researchers of the study believe the mental disorders could’ve been caused by the body’s immune response to COVID-19. Psychological stressors, including social isolation and the worry of infecting others, also played a role.
Although quarantine has been a necessary safety precaution, studies show it’s had a negative psychological impact. Researchers from China found that 96 percent of individuals who were discharged from specialized quarantine facilities had symptoms of PTSD. (It’s important to note that the study did not include people who were self-quarantining at home.) Such symptoms included but were not limited to:
- Chronic sense of fight or flight
- Overwhelmed feeling of guilt or shame
The Trauma Effects of Social Restrictions
For those who haven’t been infected by COVID-19, the pandemic has had a profound and lasting effect on people’s mental health. A recently-published nationwide study showed that out of 583 adolescents, most of them expressed symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD, as well as suicidal ideation. From the study, 55% of the adolescents had symptoms that met the criteria for major depressive disorder.
The study showed that loneliness, poor sleep habits and stress correlated with poor mental health. In fact, loneliness and exposure to media coverage of COVID-19 led to higher rates of depression and suicidal ideation and behavior.
How to Help with Trauma from the Pandemic
In many cases, counseling and psychological treatment are the best ways to relieve trauma symptoms from the COVID-19 pandemic. Such methods can allow a person to freely and safely express their feelings to a professional and discover ways to help their individual needs.
Self-management tools for trauma, such as the Mira app, can also prove to be useful. Grounding exercises, journaling and other activities can help an individual calm their mind and find inner peace.
Finally, in a time where social distancing makes it difficult to be close to loved ones, it’s important to find other ways to take care of oneself. Whether that be going for a walk or video chatting with a close friend, self-care can help relieve trauma symptoms.
If you or someone you know is experiencing trauma from COVID-19, you are not alone. Help from mental health professionals and trauma relief apps, like Mira, are here for you. Read our blog for more information on trauma and PTSD!