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Could you have Covid-19 induced PTSD?

latest blog by Ibiza Calm

Ibiza Calm - Could you have Covid-19 induced PTSD?
05/11/2021 | category: News

Could you have Covid-19 induced PTSD?

The last 18 months have taken a huge emotional and psychological toll on most of us. Lockdown, restrictions, isolation, and strain has been felt in every sector of society. If it wasn’t the fear of the virus that stressed you out, it was tension around the effects of lockdown. Children kept at home for months, businesses unable to function due to limitations, and the loss of jobs, liberty, and at times even sanity, has hit everyone hard. We have seen a rise in conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, all at a time when mental health services have been harder to access than ever before. 

Earlier this year, the Director-General of the World Health Organization said “the Covid-19 pandemic has caused mass trauma on a larger scale than World War II, and the impact will last “for many years to come.”

This is evident in the large numbers of people now showing signs of covid induced, post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD. There are patients who contracted “long covid” now presenting with PTSD symptoms, or those that spent time in hospital on a ventilator. It is being seen amongst the loved ones of those who lost their lives to the virus, frontline workers and first responders who worked in battle like conditions for months on end, and the children being taught remotely for the best part of a year.

We can’t yet begin to fully understand exactly how much the pandemic has impacted lives across the globe, what we do know is that the fallout will be felt for several decades, and the focus on treating mental health must be a primary concern for health professionals worldwide.

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What is PTSD? And what causes it?

PTSD is short for post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychiatric anxiety disorder that occurs in people who have witnessed or been involved in a shocking or disturbing event, or series of events. About one in three people who experience severe trauma will develop PTSD.

It can leave sufferers with feelings of guilt, anger, and grief. Lead to depression and anxiety, and many will repeatedly relive the event through nightmares or flashbacks. 

Some of the events that can lead to PTSD include:
• War, conflict, violence, and civil unrest
• Natural disasters
• Serious accidents
• Emergency surgery or major health problems, needing ICU
• Assault – physical or sexual
• Death of a loved one, especially if sudden, violent, or unexpected
• Any type of abuse – domestic, childhood, torture or other
• Experiencing trauma or violence at work (such as military, law enforcement, emergency responders and health care professionals)

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Signs or symptoms of PTSD 

The symptoms of PTSD can start within a month of the traumatic event; however, some people will not show any signs until years later. Living and coping with PTSD puts an enormous strain on health and relationships, can have an impact on holding down a job, going to classes, keeping up with any responsibilities, and even daily life.

Warning signs to look out for include –

Re-experiencing the event and intrusive memories

Distressing dreams or nightmares about the event
Flashbacks that involve reliving the traumatic experience
Emotional or physical reactions to things that remind you of the event
Reoccurring and unwanted memories of the event
Memory problems around the trauma (remembering it incorrectly or incompletely)

Avoidance and numbing

Avoiding people, places and things that remind you of the event
Isolating oneself from friends, family, and people you love
Feeling emotionally numb or empty
Using substances and behaviours to numb the pain (i.e., alcohol, gambling)

Overwhelming feelings, hyperarousal, and changes in mood

Being constantly on edge and alert for danger, easily startled or frightened
Difficulty with sleeping and concentration
Irritable, hostile, angry and sometimes violent outbursts
Overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame

Negative thinking and detachment

Despair or hopelessness about the future
Negative thoughts about yourself, the world or those around you
Feelings of detachment from everyone around you
Difficulty in participating in, and maintaining close relationships
Trouble holding down a job or other commitments
No interest in hobbies, activities, or social activities
Finding it hard to feel positive about anything

Physical symptoms

Irregular heartbeats
Headaches
Random aches and pains
Stomach problems, such as diarrhoea
Panic attacks

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PTSD and substance abuse 

Many people suffering with PTSD turn to alcohol and drugs to try and manage or alleviate their symptoms. It is thought that as many as 40% of people diagnosed with PTSD will also be struggling with substance abuse problems. Alcohol and drugs promise detachment, oblivion, easier sleep, a way to forget the past and to numb the pain. Sadly, not only do they not work, but in most cases, alcohol, and drugs when they are used incorrectly or without medical supervision, just compound the problem by intensifying feelings of anxiety and increasing depression.

Substance abuse perpetuates loneliness and isolation, it stops you from dealing or coping with feelings. Whilst it is hard to deal with any emotions associated with trauma or disturbing life events, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs is like putting a band aid on a knife wound. To truly fix the problem you need to face the issue and learn safe coping strategies.

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Treatment for PTSD 

PTSD is treatable and with access to the proper mental health care, including treatment for any co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, sufferers can go on to enjoy full and rewarding lives without struggling daily from the sometimes terrifying, and often distressing and painful symptoms.

Therapists are successfully using treatments such as eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), a form of psychotherapy that uses bilateral stimulation to help people recover from PTSD and trauma. When an individual suffers a traumatic event, it can make them feel emotionally paralysed, so their brain is unable to completely process the situation. EMDR aims to help the brain to deal with the memory properly, so it is no longer harrowing. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which is a type of therapy that aims to help you manage problems by changing how you think and act. 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a brain stimulation therapy which has been shown to be a popular alternative and highly effective in reducing symptoms and making them more manageable.

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Rehab in Spain

Here at the luxury residential rehab centre in Ibiza, we have a team of highly qualified staff that are experienced in a range of therapies for the treatment of PTSD, depression, anxiety, drug, and alcohol addiction. We offer CBT, EMDR therapy and TMS on-site as a part of our wider treatment program.

For information on all the therapies available here at our rehab centre in Spain, and details on admissions contact sharon@ibizacalm.com


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