What You Need to Know About Pandemic Trauma and Depression
Here's the thing: I had trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) long before the pandemic; it's one of the reasons my depression is chronic. In my opinion, the pandemic has led to PTSD even in people who haven't contracted COVID-19. I say this with confidence because it's the reason my PTSD has become more intense since last year, and as a member of mental health groups, I have seen people exhibiting PTSD symptoms. And yes, one of the symptoms of PTSD is depression.
According to Dr. Alok Vinod Kulkarni,
"At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was half-expecting people to present with PTSD symptoms following recovery from COVID-19, and I wasn't wrong. I have observed a steep increase in the number of patients presenting with PTSD in the last six months. Typically, the onset of clinical symptoms is within three months of the traumatic event, but sometimes they begin years afterward."1
How I Knew Pandemic Trauma Was Affecting My Depression and PTSD
Pandemic trauma affected my PTSD and depression for the worse with good reason. Firstly, I realized I was easily irritable and anxious -- and the frequency of my PTSD flashbacks had increased. I was more depressed and tired than usual. Even a good night's sleep was hard due to trouble falling asleep and, later in the night, disturbing nightmares. Everything began to feel like one pointless obligation after another, and I just wanted to give up and hibernate.
It took me a while to figure out that my PTSD was being directly triggered by the pandemic. And when I did realize it, it made perfect sense. From lockdowns, fear of a painful death, and a suffocating lack of freedom to global civil unrest, unemployment, pay cuts, and a growing sense of helplessness, PTSD, and depression are the most logical responses to the pandemic. After all, if there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that COVID-19 has invaded our mental and physical world and made survival harder, perhaps irrevocably.
What You Can Do to Cope with Pandemic Trauma and Depression
If you feel you are in the same boat as me, do not panic, and more importantly, do not ignore your suffering. Acceptance is key. Don't expect yourself to "get over it," as you can't get over trauma by wishing or willing it away. The same rule applies to depression as well. Learn to be kind to yourself and, like me, consult a mental health professional as soon as possible. The mental distress we are experiencing may never quite go away, but with therapy and self-care, it can be brought down to manageable levels.
- Kulkarni, A., "After Recovering from COVID-19, Don't Ignore the PTSD Symptoms." The Wire, January 2021.
Shaikh, M. (2021, January 20). What You Need to Know About Pandemic Trauma and Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, February 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2021/1/what-you-need-to-know-about-pandemic-trauma-and-depression