‘’Understanding a question is half an answer’’ /Socrates/
A pandemic is a traumatic emotional experience in many ways; it is an event that is perceived and experienced as a threat to security and stability within one’s emotional world.
All physical illnesses have mental consequences. For those who contract the infection, and for their families, the pandemic is an emotionally traumatic event.
Changes in day-to-day life brought about by the pandemic create uncertainty to the future of health and sometimes life, loss of freedom of movement, restrictions on social life and radical changes in communication.
Key features of the traumatic COVID19 pandemic:
- A new, relatively unknown, virus, the development of which is difficult to predict;
- Uncertainty in all aspects of life;
- Danger (to life, health), the scale of which cannot be anticipated;
- Lack of control over both the ability to prevent and treat infection;
- Stigma (negative image) for the sick;
- Emotional loss – loss of health, loss of freedom of choice and movement, changes in the financial situation;
- Social isolation.
Prognoses suggest that 30 -50% of people will develop various types of psycho-emotional difficulties, including possibly anxiety, depression, and other reactions.
Reactions can be delayed may take the form of a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – like condition.
Of course, PTSD does not develop in everyone who experiences a traumatic situation; but the treatment of this condition is complicated, and the consequences can be significantly disruptive.
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) – the essence
- Develops as a delayed response following a emotionally traumatic situation and is characterized by signs of “re-experience” (obsessive memories – “flashbacks”, dreams, nightmares) that appear against the background of a constant feeling of “numbness”;
- Develops within 6 months after the traumatic situation (10% of cases – later then 6 month)
Signs of PTSD:
- Signs of “recurrence” of the traumatic event;
- Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping;
- Irritability or outbursts of anger;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Exaggerated fear reactions;
- Bold or self-destructive behaviour;
- State of extreme caution.
Treatment of PTSD sometimes complicated. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor at the first signs. Medication therapy may be used in combination with psychotherapy, the type of which will be determined individually.
1. Oxford Handbook of Psychiatry (Oxford Handbooks Series) 3rd Edition, David Semple, Roger Smyth
2. Mental health before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal probability sample survey of the UK population , Matthias Pierce, Holly Hope, Tamsin Ford, Stephani Hatch, Matthew Hotopf, Ann John, Evangelos Kontopantelis, Roger Webb, Simon Wessely, Sally McManus, Kathryn M Abel, www.thelancet.com/psychiatry Vol 7 October 2020
4. Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic Catherine K. Ettman, BA1,2; Salma M. Abdalla, MD, MPH1; Gregory H. Cohen, MPhil, MSW, PhD1,3; et al, JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(9):e2019686. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.19686