The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 5.6 million deaths reported worldwide to date. Aside from the death toll, the pandemic has triggered significant emotional, physical, and economic problems around the world. The pandemic has led to diverse mental health problems including; anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma- and stress-related disorders (Tuker and Czapla, 2021).
Is COVID a trauma?
Different groups have met the qualifying criteria for PTSD according to DSM-5 because of the pandemic. Some of these would include those who have suffered from the illness and potential death. Individuals who have witnessed family members or patients ( eg, healthcare workers) suffering and death as well as individuals who have learned about the risk (eg, journalists, first responders, medical examiners, and hospital personnel) (Tuker and Czapla, 2021). Overall, experiencing a global pandemic that is into its second year is not something we just get over in a few days.
Introducing: Post Covid Stress Disorder (PCSD)
Phebe Tucker, MD and Christopher Czapla, MD (2021), speak of a new phenomenon, Post Covid Stress Disorder (PCSD). PCSD is specific to ‘Post Covid’ and the impact it has caused on some individuals. These specific emotional and mental health related issues have created a whole new, separate category. It includes an increase in anxiety and depression, burnout and emotional stress (Tuker and Czapla, 2021). Moreover, recent studies have explored other stressors during the pandemic that are adding to the emotional burdens, such as:
- Social isolation
- Economic losses
- Working from home while caring for children and other family members
In addition, research has investigated the effects on healthcare workers and links with PCSD
- Strains such as lack of personal protective equipment (PPE),
- Fears of exposure
- Extreme difficult decisions
- High stress working environment
- Isolation from family and friends
- Limited resources
- Working with an unknown virus
(Tuker and Czapla, 2021).
It is important that research is carried out regarding the effects Covid has caused to not only our physical health but also the impact on our mental health. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) this pandemic will be around for quite a few more years. So, what can we do about it? Yes, we have vaccines, lower numbers of cases and deaths but ( and this is a BIG but), what is happening to our mental health? This blog is the pilot of a series of COVID related blogs discussing how we can look after our physical and our mental health. Look out for upcoming pieces related to coping strategies, techniques, education and how YOU can gain control of your life during the pandemic.
If you would like professional support with dealing with the pandemic, you can book a consultation here.
Stef Gafa’ is a counsellor with Willingness who has a particular interest in trauma, attachment, domestic violence and the LGBT community.
Tucker, P Czapla C. S (2021) Post-COVID Stress Disorder: Another Emerging Consequence of the Global Pandemic. Psychiatric Times. 38,(1)