Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — A Lasting Consequence of Covid-19
“PTSD is a whole-body tragedy, an integral human event of enormous proportions with massive repercussions.” ― Susan Pease Banitt
2020 isn’t the first year that the world witnessed a pandemic. It is also not the first pandemic that claimed the lives of hundreds and thousands of people around the globe. However, the Covid-19 has left people isolated, without human contact, physically scarred, and mentally crippled for over a year now.
Despite the evolving medical technologies, this one virus has managed to become the cause of millions of deaths worldwide. Medical infrastructure has fallen short, hospitals understaffed, lacking medications, and the constant rising panic in people’s minds, all of this aftermath is going to leave people with imprints of long-lasting trauma. The kind of post-traumatic stress disorder that leaves you with goosebumps and a racing heart.
The pandemic has managed to trigger a range of physical, emotional, and even a range of economic crises in people’s minds. With several countries like India still struggling to fight the second wave of the virus, there are chances that this pandemic will be extremely draining for people once people finally settle in with the “new” normal.
Understanding the meaning of PTSD
PTSD is defined as a mental health disorder triggered in people exposed to a traumatic event in their lives that eventually takes a physical and emotional toll on the people.
One of the key symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder is viewing the world as a place of danger, and Covid-19 has more or less made people fear stepping out of their house worrying that they could contract the virus and, in turn, affect someone more vulnerable in their home.
What kind of triggers would people experience?
To think that people’s fear or the causes of post-traumatic stress disorder after Covid-19 would likely be limited to just their physical health is entirely untrue. The impacts of PTSD post-Covid can range across multiple spectrums, especially related to physical, mental, and emotional, and financial well-being.
Impacts of PTSD on Physical Health
The covid-19 disease has left people worrying about their health every single day. To think that a single strain of a foreign virus can infect your lungs and possibly damage them is scarring. These kinds of implications of the disease are public knowledge, and that is exactly what has ingrained a deep fear in people’s minds about their physical health.
More than the disease, it is the paranoia surrounding it that has left people worrying about their well-being all along. A simple cough has people chugging down bottles of fresh orange juice and paracetamols, hoping that it is not the virus.
This kind of fear surrounding this disease will likely prevail even when things do get better, and the cases of infection drop down to the minimum. People will work themselves up over a simple fever or a dry cough, constantly panicking whether it is the virus.
What should you do?
· As part of PTSD treatment, focus on paying close attention to your body and prioritizing it.
· Optimize your immune system by consuming foods that are good for you and will rejuvenate both your mind and body.
· If you are immuno-compromised or you have issues with chronic diseases, make sure you take care of your disease and take your medications on time.
· Indulge in exercise, even if it involves 30 minutes of brisk walking or a session of morning yoga. The last thing you want is to get yourself into a sedentary lifestyle.
· If something seems amiss with your physical health, opt for telemedicine and get help from your doctor after proper consultation.
Impacts of PTSD on Emotional Health
The post-Covid phase will take a worrisome toll on the minds of people, both the survivors of Covid-19 and the ones sitting in their homes. Not just seeing the vengeful condition of the world but witnessing deaths, losing a loved one, and even going through the rough ride of contracting the virus will eventually take a toll on people’s emotional well-being.
Even when things do gradually get better worldwide, people will still cope with grief, stress, and the constant anxiousness of the world undergoing this experience again.
A “new” normal might seem fancy and help recuperate from the fleeting thoughts, but the constant stress and anxiety will linger in the back of the mind as part of the complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Not to mention that the continuous string of quarantine and isolation and being away from loved ones has left many permanent scars in the minds of people.
What should you do?
· Do mindfulness exercises like meditation, yoga, etc.
· Divert your mind with constructive and creative activities on the side.
· If you are feeling torn and extremely demoralized, seek help from a professional counselor. Try talk therapy, if needed. Learn about post-traumatic stress disorder counseling techniques from professionals.
· Accept that not being productive 100% of the time during such tough and trying times is okay.
· Treat yourself with a little bit more compassion instead of constantly indulging in negative self-talk.
Impacts of PTSD on Economic Well-Being
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in millions of people across the world losing their job, shutting down their businesses, and in constant agony of not having a stable source of income. Aside from the official count from Covid-19 deaths, there has been a salient rise in the rate of suicides among people, one of the major causes being unemployment.
The string of sudden lockdowns, the impact on the varying country’s economy, and several allied factors have led people to be on the constant edge with job insecurity. And, this financial crisis might prolong in the days to come, especially for businesses in food and hospitality since people are going to be skeptical about stepping out and socializing post-Covid.
What should you do?
· Money can be a crisis, however, there is no point sitting back and mourning the loss of a job that won’t come back. Instead, accept and look for alternatives.
· Build your networking and put it to use to land yourself your next big break.
· If you have a job, start investing so you have an emergency fund for the future, in case something even worse happens.
· Try opening up multiple streams of income instead of being reliant on just one.
· Understand that times are tough and there’s no guarantee what the next moment brings along, so spend frugally.
How is PTSD post-Covid Going to Affect Gen-Z?
While the majority of the article focuses on the older generations of the world, what we fail to emphasize is the kind of impact this will leave on Gen-Z. For the generation that is either going to tap into the job market or appear for their major examinations, at this point, they are left in a looming cave of darkness with no certainty at the end.
Just as they are getting started with applying for interviews, the economy has either given up or the recruitments have started slowing down. There are constant risks of lower wages, job insecurity, and reduced hours of work.
So, to have a generation completely uncertain about their career and their tomorrow is definitely going to take a toll on them mentally, physically, and not to mention, socially as well.
More than the impacts of the virus itself, the PTSD symptoms from this pandemic are expected to hit Gen-Z mentally. This generation is already touted as an anxious generation, pair that with the lack of career or a promise for tomorrow, and you have a disaster in the making.
Uncertain times will create spikes in anxiety and panic attacks. However, the generation needs to prepare themselves for it and navigate through the same, either by getting professional help or preparing themselves to become strong-willed.
People need to understand that the lasting impacts of the pandemic will hit Gen-Z the worse, especially because most of it is happening during the representational years of their lives. Some are either tapping into their careers while some are passing out from high school. The pandemic has left both of these situations uncertain with no concrete answer.
Strained Social Life
One of the lasting consequences that this might impose is on social relationships. Especially for introverts, this can make them further more reclusive while for people with an extrovert nature, they will have a hard time getting back to a normal social life.
There is going to be constant fear of the infection resurfacing, much worse waves of the pandemic hitting the world. So, these will impact social relationships in the long run, even for the years to come.
Nobody expected to experience a pandemic in 2020, and nobody expected the trauma that it would bring along with it. However, the wrath of it has left people disarmed, isolated, and in extreme anxiety and will lead to post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adults in the coming days. But now is the time to acknowledge the impacts and prepare yourself physically and mentally to rise above it once things start settling down and we start a life reiterating a “new” normal.
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