(AscendHealthy.com) – It’s been a tough year for most of us. The pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of civilized life, leaving sufferers and loved ones struggling on multiple fronts. Many of us now battle the traumatic effects of our experiences, and for some, the impacts are leading to yet more devastation.
Post-COVID stress disorder is a growing problem — one that could strike any one of us at any time, so it’s important to know the risk factors, symptoms, and ways to manage it. We have some suggestions that might help.
See If You Could Be at Risk for Post-COVID Stress Disorder.
How Common Is Post-COVID Stress Disorder?
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed over 2 million people worldwide in just over a year, according to Johns Hopkins University. Psychiatric Times indicates the strain of living through such a stressful, far-reaching event is taking its toll. People from all walks of life, many of whom have never previously dealt with mental health crises, find themselves at their breaking points.
While most of these people don’t necessarily qualify for a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis, experts warn that there’s a strong overlap in effects. According to one poll, over 40% of the population feels they’ve experienced at least one mental or behavioral health issue directly related to the pandemic.
Specific impacts include:
- Anxiety or depression currently affects about 30.9% of sufferers.
- Trauma and stress-related problems plague 26.3% of cases.
- Substance abuse has become a problem for 13.3% of people surveyed.
- Suicidal ideation has been an issue for 10.7% of sufferers.
What Causes It?
Post-COVID Stress Disorder can have a few different causes, which can depend on how COVID-19 has impacted a person’s life.
Emotional and Financial Strains
We’ve all responded to stay-at-home orders and quarantines in different ways, but most of us haven’t taken the isolation well. Crisis fatigue has struck much of the population, prompting mass disillusionment and burnout.
Some people have checked out completely, possibly because of either overwhelm or denial. Others have found that their relationships have grown strained. Many have financial difficulties due to job losses and reduced work availability and are crumbling under the weight of their debts.
Times of heavy stress can put a physical strain on the body and lead to neck or back pain, gastrointestinal distress, chronic fatigue, inflammation and impaired immune function. People with asthma and COPD may find their symptoms have worsened, and sufferers at risk for heart attacks or strokes may become more likely to suffer serious events.
There’s also the potential strain that can result from becoming seriously ill. Some people are reporting physical symptoms months after clearing their COVID-19 infections. Others are suffering the long-term effects of being on a ventilator, which survivors have described as both physically and emotionally traumatizing. Many of them feel the experience has forever changed them.
Coping With the Pandemic
Experts advise we do what we can to cope with the situation by addressing burnout and keeping as much personal control as possible. Many people are finding direction with the help of online therapy.
Others seize their power by avoiding crowded areas, wearing masks when in public and only interacting with people in their own social bubbles. Creative social distancing approaches can help keep life during lockdowns engaging and reduce the chances of falling into a potentially damaging rut.
COVID-19 has left a lasting mark on all of us. Regardless of the cause, some of us could wind up feeling the effects for months, possibly even years, to come. Remember that self-care isn’t optional right now — and don’t hesitate to get in touch with a professional if that alone isn’t enough.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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