COVID-19 has caused a lot of changes to take place in our daily lives, and even for folks who completely avoided the disease, those changes can take a toll on the psyche. For people suffering from PTSD, the limitation of resources that has occurred due to stay-at-home orders can cause treatment successes to start going backwards, and can be legitimately life-threatening.
In addition to the negative affects of those who already suffer from PTSD, the severity of the disease can also cause those who had it to start experiencing their own post-trauma symptoms upon recovery. For some, the simple truth that there is an uncontrolled disease sweeping the globe is enough to cause mental trauma to the point where mental health precautions should be taken. Whether someone has had PTSD for a long time, or is experiencing because of COVID, action needs to be taken to be able to navigate “the new normal” and preserve mental health.
For people suffering from PTSD, the feelings of isolation and the disruption in the daily routine can be more harmful than they are to those who do not have the disorder, and can lead to medication safety being ignored. The inability to see loved ones also adds to it, but fortunately there are many ways to overcome those feelings.
When it comes to the routine, establishing a new one is very important for those coping with PTSD. This routine may be completely different than the old one, and will take some getting used to, but regularity is a must. For someone who left an office life and now works from home due to COVID, establishing a similar daily process is essential. Replacing the daily commute with things like exercise or learning a new trade are both beneficial for coping, and for anyone as a human being. Getting dressed up for work may seem silly when working from your couch, but it, too, helps to make the new routine feel more familiar.
A healthy diet is also easier to come by working from home, and the process of cooking is therapeutic for many. Another great part about being home is the ability to take care of pet you may have never thought you could have time for. Trained animals have been proven to help people suffering from PTSD with their depression and anxiety, as well as with the process of cessation of nightmares.
After the new “daily grind,” most of the means for coping with PTSD are similar in the times of lockdown, just slightly changed. Physical activity is still paramount, but gyms may be closed so the workout has to move to the house. Meditation, music therapy, and yoga are all available through online mediums, as well as “hangouts” with friends via Zoom and programs of the like.
For members of society who have experienced trauma because of COVID-19, getting ahead of the lasting effects is important. All of the things mentioned above also work for prevention, and Integrative health education is an approach to treatment that involves a full spectrum of care, from social and community involvement, to mental and emotional treatment, and is encouraged for anyone who thinks they may be experiencing PTSD. If you or someone you know has lost a loved one because of COVID, or has simply been overwhelmed by the overlying fear of the unknown, keep an eye out for these symptoms and contact a doctor if you see them: reexperiencing the trauma; becoming a recluse (different than being at home because of orders); constant negative views; and difficulty sleeping.
Ultimately, “this too shall pass,” and that is as important to share with anyone experiencing PTSD during COVID as anything else mentioned above. Until it does pass, however, stick to routines and look out for yourself. This is not an easy time, but help is still available, even if in-person visits are limited. Online therapy options are aplenty, and are proven to work, even before they were simply options and not necessity.