4 Possible Sources of Post-Traumatic Stress in the Face of COVID-19
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may be one of the alterations potentiated by the pandemic.
The global crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic is having consequences at many levels, and one of the most important is the psychological level.
The impact that this new pathogen has had on patients, on the economy and on the way people socialize and move around has important implications to which mental health professionals are already adapting.
In this regard, one of the psychopathological phenomena to be taken into account is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. In this article we will see how PTSD is related to the coronavirus crisis and how in a confinement situation online therapy is an effective tool.
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
What in psychology and psychiatry is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that some people develop after experiencing traumatic situations, as the name suggests. These are usually events that generated an important aversive emotional shock, which leaves psychologicalwhich leaves psychological sequels.
Its symptoms are mainly of anxious type, linked to stress, and linked to episodes of dissociation, and remain reproduced over and over again in the perception and behavior of the person, as sequels of the traumatic event experienced, which in some cases occurred even several years ago. Moreover, PTSD often appears together with other psychological disorders, especially depressive and anxiety disorders, as well as addictions.
Some of the characteristic symptoms of PTSD are flashbacks. (reliving the experience that produced the trauma in the form of intrusive images that emerge in the consciousness, and suffering a strong emotional reaction), nightmares, tendency to irritability or explosions of anger, feeling of guilt for what happened, catastrophic thoughts about what will happen in the future, etc.
Elements of the COVID-19 crisis that can lead to PTSD
It is clear that the coronavirus is not, by itself, something capable of generating an alteration such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, the context of crisis triggered by this pandemic can cause the development of PTSD during these months. that during these months more people than usual develop this psychopathology..
Some of the aspects of the coronavirus pandemic capable of causing PTSD cases to increase could be the following.
1. Traumatic events due to the death of family members
Normally, the death of a loved one does not generate trauma.but grieving processes that eventually resolve over time. However, if the death occurs in very adverse or painful circumstances, some family members may develop PTSD. In the case of the coronavirus pandemic, it is not uncommon for these circumstances to occur, due to the collapse of many health systems, the impossibility of seeing the sick person, etc.
2. Traumatic events due to chronic disease
Health complications facilitated by coronavirus infection can trigger other illnesses whose physical sequelae remain. whose physical sequelae remain. For example, in the case of vascular disease.
3. Financial and labor crises
Because of the economic crisis resulting from the pandemic and the forced confinement, many people are seeing how practically overnight have become unemployed or have seen their source of income drastically reduced.. Many times, even in people who already enjoyed job stability and had formed the expectation of having their lives solved for the next decades.
4. Crisis of coexistence favored by confinement and the state of alarm
In the face of a very complex situation, serious family altercations may arise due to the need to be in the same home all the time. In cases where there is domestic violence, there is more exposure to danger..
Online psychotherapy to face this reality
As we have seen, during the COVID-19 crisis, several factors coincide which, when combined, are capable of compromising the mental health of many people: on the one hand the health problem of the coronavirus, on the other hand the need to comply with the confinement, and on the other the economic and labor crisis derived from the above.
Although many people will hardly feel emotionally affected by this situation, many others are pushed to the limit by this situation. are pushed to the limit by this cocktail of stressful elements, and in some cases this goes as far as to the limit.and in certain cases this goes to the extreme of causing the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to emerge.
Faced with this situation, online therapy is positioned as a very valuable and sometimes indispensable tool and sometimes essential to provide professional support to those who need it.
This treatment format relies on the use of electronic devices that are already in most Spanish homes, and has proven to be as effective as face-to-face psychotherapy with the psychologist, as well as providing several advantages: time savings, greater discretion by not having to leave home, the possibility of talking as patients in an environment with which we are familiar and in which we feel safe, etc.
Online therapy helps patients to go through a process of desensitization to the stimuli that trigger the "flashbacks", and allows to modify the beliefs that keep the disorder going, among other things.among other things. It is not only a dialogue with the psychologist: it is a training in the adoption of habits and the management of emotions.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)