People worldwide became a lot more fearful of what could happen to them or their loved ones, even from the start of the pandemic last year. New research of 1,040 participants from five different countries published in PLOS ONE analyzes people’s reaction to the ongoing crisis’s stresses, finding more than 13 percent of the sample had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related symptoms.
COVID-19 and PTSD
With the economic and social aftermath, the psychology researchers caution more needs to be done to deal with the potential short and long-term increase in PTSD cases resulting from the crisis, as well as other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and psychosocial functioning.
“We found that traumatic stress was related to future events, such as worry about oneself or a family member contracting COVID-19, to direct contact with the virus, as well as indirect contact such as via the news and government lockdown—a non-life threatening event,” explains co-author Victoria Bridgland, who is undertaking a Ph.D. researching the triggers of PTSD.
PTSD is an array of reactions, which can include intrusive recollections such as flashbacks, that can appear in people exposed to an event that threatened their life or safety. The team’s findings highlight the need to focus on the severe psychological distress associated with the ongoing crisis and build on other studies that show the damaging psychological impact of the pandemic on mental health.
The Second Curve
Extensive long-term documentation of COVID-19-related traumatic stress responses will enable health professionals to help people who could otherwise slip into oblivion, the team says.
The survey analyzed a few responses to common PTSD symptoms, such as repeated disturbing and unwanted images, memories, or thoughts about the pandemic. This psychological fallout has been named the ‘second curve,’ predicted to last from a few months to years and may reach further than the medical fallout, the paper concludes.