GREEN BAY (NBC26) — Mental health professionals report some people that have recovered from COVID-19 are now suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
“As the numbers begin to rise, we’re seeing it more and more,” said Caitlin Carmody, an outpatient psychotherapist at Spectrum Behavioral Health LLC.
COVID-19 can be traumatic, and after a physical recovery, the emotional wounds can be slower to heal. For some, it’s even leading to PTSD
“So with COVID-19, people who have been hospitalized, or have been ill, or had family members that have been ill are experiencing these same symptoms of avoiding anything having to do with the illness,” Carmody said.
Someone experiencing PTSD has flashbacks of the traumatic event, avoids memories or triggers and has overwhelming feelings of sadness, anger, fear and isolation.
These are things Carmody said some former COVID-19 patients of all ages are battling, especially those that were hospitalized or on a ventilator.
“It’s very traumatic,” Carmody said. “They’re dealing with a lot of health issues and near-death experiences.”
Carmody said many are also experiencing health-related anxiety. Although not a new phenomenon, Carmody said the pandemic has many feeling worried about passing the virus on to others or catching it themselves.
But there are ways to cope. Spectrum Behavioral Health links several coping resources for children and adults on their website.
One coping mechanism experts recommend is the ‘square breathing’ technique: Breathe in for four seconds; hold for four seconds; breathe out for four seconds; and hold for four seconds. The goal is to clear the mind and keep the person grounded.
Another skill to help get through a tough situation is focusing on the five senses to bring one back to the present.
Carmody said journaling, meditation and redirecting negative thoughts are also beneficial. She said it’s best to limit exposure to COVID-19 related news if it triggers a negative response.
If people are experiencing COVID-19 PTSD, Carmody said they shouldn’t wait to seek help.
“They need to be able to reach out. They need to call family, friends. They need to probably get in to see a therapist,” Carmody said.
Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, New Mental Health Connection and the National Alliance on Mental Illness are all resources that can help connect people to a mental health professional.