HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Post-traumatic stress disorder is known as a mental health condition that develops following a traumatic event, but can people develop signs of PTSD amid the coronavirus pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of people worldwide.
Nightmares, emotional distress, and negative mood changes are just some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I think a lot of people have had burnout from this pandemic,” said Danielle Stahl, public information officer of the Washington County Health Department.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of u.s. adults every year, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime.
“To talk about PTSD, especially with COVID, we might want to back up a little bit and talk about the terms, stress, and trauma because they both exist in the term post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Dr. Matthew Wagner, director of behavioral science at Meritus Health.
PTSD, which was also known as shell shock during World War Two, can affect any demographic of people.
“During our lifetimes, a majority of us are going to be exposed to some kind of life threatening, trauma. We may experience some kind of violence or assault. These are sadly very common experiences for people in their lifetime, but only a minority of those folks will develop significant post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Dr. Wagner.
The COVID-19 pandemic happened unexpectedly causing a great deal of uncertainty and changing many people’s livelihoods forever.
“There are some COVID situations that would qualify somebody for post-traumatic stress disorder and they developed symptoms later on. For instance, if you suddenly become acutely ill from COVID to the point where we see this at the hospital where you suddenly over hours can’t breathe and have to be rushed to the hospital, have a breathing tube put down your throat, put in the intensive care unit, separated from your family, and being told that you may die,” said Dr. Wagner.
Once diagnosed with PTSD there are many treatments for patients, but for people struggling with their mental health, resources are available.
“I think you for the pandemic for people who are feeling that burnout, who are feeling PTSD, or that overload of stress is to find local resources,” said Stahl.