Psychologists are warning that thousands of Covid-19 survivors might find themselves struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder after recovery.
Psychologists believe that the mental health risks arising from the pandemic have not been addressed, and are likely to take a very significant toll on the survivors in the months following their recovery. Being hospitalized for any illness is a terrifying experience. However, researchers say that being hospitalized for Covid-19 is a uniquely terrifying experience.
Because Covid-19 is a highly infectious disease, patients have been unable to have contact with family members for emotional support during a hospitalization or at-home quarantine. Social connections help loved ones overcome traumatic events. Covid-19 hospitalization often involves a complete lack of contact with family members, adding to the patient’s sense of helplessness and exacerbating his/her mental health issues.
Further, the protective gear required of hospital personnel when treating a COVID-19 patient can be intimidating and confusing for patients. For patients in ICU that are intubated, the ordeal is often very frightening.
The psychological impact of being separated from family members during such a crucial time; the terrifying prospect of death even if one has no comorbidities; and the stigma associated with Covid-19 all can result in symptoms similar to those experienced by survivors of natural disasters, car accidents or other types of life-threatening situations.
Post- traumatic stress disorder is a very real risk after surviving Covid-19. Doctors who have been treating these patients, as well as family members, need to look out for symptoms of post- traumatic stress disorder, even after the patient has recovered. PTSD symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. If the symptoms persist or if they interfere with daily functioning, it may be time seek professional help.