When we entered the year 2020 all geared up planning to grow and glow, nobody knew that it’s going to be a total mess. An outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus has absolutely blown our minds. The dark cloud of coronavirus has cast a shadow over our mental health. More than half of American adults said that pandemic has worsened their psychic health. It’s going to cause a wave of mental disorders. Recession is prevailing, job insecurities are hiking up and the world is literally going nuts, how can someone even expect us to embrace the new normal? The pressing question is how to keep sane in these unparalleled times
PANDEMIC- A NEW WAVE OF MENTAL AILMENTS
COVID-19 has hit a large proportion of the world’s population but very little is known about its potential impacts on mental health. COVID-19 is going to bring a new wave of mental illnesses and PTSD is one of them.
Posttraumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder that can be triggered in people who’ve experienced a terrifying event directly or indirectly. It affects 8 million Americans which accounts for 3.5% of the population. In the recognition of PTSD Awareness Day on June 27, we are trying to normalize the situation.
Think of the most traumatic event that has ever happened to you. Is it when your car crashed into a tree? Or you had a fracture? Were you sexually assaulted by someone?
There’s nothing to feel ashamed. The brutal truth is most of us go through such terrifying events at some point in our lives. In fact, a traumatic incident is encountered by 50% of U.S. adults. It can be a medical emergency, an outbreak of fire, or when something really awful happens to our loved ones. But the problem arises when we can’t get over it. Nightmares start haunting us, we begin to get flashbacks or frightful thoughts create room in our mind. Eventually, we detach ourselves from others.
We are generally accustomed to overlooking our mental health condition and undoing the default mode is not an easy task. Usually, symptoms begin within 3 months sometimes it may take a year or even more than that. Severe symptoms can be found in 37% of people battling with this condition.
How can you know when you’re at risk for the onset of PTSD symptoms?.
Unwelcoming thoughts are a common occurrence in people with PTSD. Recalling memories is good until they are distressing ones. In this, a person has flashbacks of that event and they are so adamant that it becomes impossible to ward them off. It feels like experiencing the trauma all over again. Even a word becomes the trigger point causing more vulnerability.
It causes a numbed emotional state. People often tend to avoid talking about their worst experiences. They also indulge themselves in avoiding get-togethers, communicating with people, and doing certain activities. Avoidance becomes a way to escape disturbing emotions. This negligence eventually compels them to indulge in substance abuse. Avoidance may seem relaxing in the short term but in the long course, it causes more impairment. So there is no point in pushing away your feelings. A better deal is to identify, accept, and process your emotions.
More anger outbursts can be observed. People tend to think they’re not worthy of something. They start underestimating themselves or begin to feel hopeless. A persistent display of fear or anger can also be detected. They don’t consider themselves good enough.
It’s the primary symptom of PTSD. This symptom leads to the self-destructive mode or self-harming behavior as a person easily get agitated. Sleeping problems or constant anxiety along with a sense of guilt can be observed. As a result of thinking about trauma, the body gets in an unusual alert mode.
It’s important to know about all the triggers. The idea is whenever you confront these symptoms you should be capable enough to take appropriate action in order to lessen the impact.
Although people of all ages are susceptive to undergo PTSD. However, symptoms may vary from person to person.
- In men, all the above-mentioned symptoms are found based on their respective experiences. Men have typical symptoms of PTSD but they are less likely to seek medical aid. You know why? Because they have less emotional reactions as compared to women.
- Women are relatively more prone to get diagnosed with PTSD. As per the American Psychiatric Association, they are twice as likely as men to get diagnosed with this condition. A woman may feel numb, or anxious, or even depressed. This condition is more prevalent in women because they have to tackle various kinds of abuse right from the bloom. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.
“Why PTSD is more prevalent in women?”
In children, symptoms are altogether different in various age groups.
- Under 6 years– Symptoms like bed wetting and disability to speak are more prevalent.
- 5-12 years– Children falling in this age group may express their trauma through paintings or stories. Or they can even face difficulty in attending schools and hanging out with friends as a result they become grumpy and bad-tempered. It can also adversely affect the motor skills of kids.
- 12-18 years- Adolescents of this age group often indulge in the act of revenge and take impulsive decisions. They can also misuse drugs or alcohol.
THE INVISIBLE WAR
Although PTSD is associated mainly with the military personnel. Whenever they win a battle the entire nation celebrates. But in reality, the actual battle begins after that. This is the battle of their mind. Considering the current scenario it’s no less than a battleground for us. In fact, it’s even scarier.
You know why?
Because each one of us is fighting with an ‘invisible enemy’. We literally have no idea from where it’s going to strike us. We’re in the state of trauma. And the most vulnerable people are those working at the frontline. No wonder they are called “the real warriors”.COVID-19 has taken a huge mental toll on us. Undoubtedly the lockdown has been uplifted but the fear of contracting the virus still haunts us.
To exacerbate the things incidents of domestic violence are increasing. Families are setting apart. Emotional and financial pressures that pandemic has placed on many families to test the strongest of marriages. Undoubtedly COVID-19 has led to an uptick in divorce rates. A lot of trauma trickles down as we’re in a recession. 1 in 10 American workers filed for unemployment benefits which accounts for a total of 16.8 million claims. It’s a hard pill to swallow but the truth is we can’t go back to the normal.
Nothing is going to be the same it will require a lot of courage to step out of the home fearlessly. We don’t even know the people around us can be a potential carrier of coronavirus. It’s quite obvious to get these feelings of fear stemming from uncertainty. Our world is confined in merely four walls so it’s no surprise that we will have a complete crack-up. The hardest battle in life is fighting with your inner demons to reassure yourselves every single day to stay strong when the world seems to set apart.
Take a deep breath. There’s always a way out.
MIND YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Coronavirus has made its ‘viral entry’ into the veins of our world. Every person has their own outlook and hence they react in a different way. The diagnosis of PTSD occurs when a person has experienced symptoms for at least 1 month after the traumatic event. The prevalence of acute stress disorder is 5% to 20%, interference in this phase can reduce its progress.
Recovering from this condition is a gradual process and hence requires a lot of patience.
If things are getting out of the track and you’ve frequent upsetting thoughts or panic attacks or fear that you may hurt yourself then you should seek professional help. A trained mental health professional can help you in decreasing the severity of your symptoms. Although there are no lab tests framed specifically for curing PTSD doctors may use a combination of therapies.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
It’s often known by the name of ‘talk therapy’. In this, a person is encouraged to express feelings related to that traumatic event. The main focus is to reintroduce yourself to feel that reminds you of trauma without being vulnerable. Through CBT destructive thoughts are identified and gradually replaced with more practical ones. It can be effectively used as a short term treatment which helps the people diagnosed with this condition to focus on present thoughts. The goal of this therapy is to tell them they cannot control every aspect but they can surely control how they deal with things.
EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING
It is mainly concerned with the processing of trauma-related memories and thoughts. This type of treatment has been found to effective for curing PTSD. In this psychotherapy, people are asked to focus on the back-forth move or a sound. However, some researches claim that the back and forth movement is not the active treatment component.
PRESENT CENTERED THERAPY
It deals in indirect processing of the trauma. It revolves around current issues. Problem-solving tactics are taught to deal with life stressors. It’s a kind of non-trauma focussed treatment. It concentrates on increasing adaptive responses that are directly or indirectly related to trauma.
SPEAKING UP ABOUT THE “UNSPEAKABLE”
Why do we take mental illness seriously when the damage is already done?
Yeah, you got me right!
All deaths are sudden, no matter how gradual the dying maybe. But there is no point in repenting. People who have PTSD are more likely to attempt suicide. According to WHO, Despite the prevailing treatments two-thirds of the people with a known mental disorder never seek professional guidance. Mental illness is factual and asking for support is not a sign of weakness. Acknowledgment and acceptance can go a long way together. Stop labeling these things as normal and look for the strategy to correct it. As per WHO there are 30%-80% of people who don’t seek treatment.
All these therapies will not work if you don’t take the first step. If you’re looking for a therapist make sure you find someone with whom you’re comfortable. Don’t hesitate to change until you find the right one. Go for the one who makes you feel stronger and more self-aware. Despite all that doom and gloom, with every passing day don’t forget to reaffirm “this too shall pass”. We are in this together.