Surviving the Psychological Trauma of Coronavirus
A lot has been written about mental health during the coronavirus crisis – but most of it has focused on the understandable anxiety, panic, and fear that many individuals are experiencing. And, while this is extremely important, something that has been largely ignored is the psychological “trauma” of living with social isolation, economic uncertainty, and fear of contagion.
Understanding Trauma and the Coronavirus
“Trauma” in psychological terms is widely misunderstood. Trauma is often assumed to be something that is purely physical – like a blow to the head, or a gunshot wound. And, even when trauma is understood to be psychological, it is often assumed to be the result of a specific and individual event – such as witnessing combat horrors.
But, during world-wide catastrophic events like coronavirus, it is important to conceptualize that trauma can happen in a large scale way, effecting many individuals in many different ways.
What is Psychological Trauma?
“Trauma” occurs anytime someone experiences a highly stressful and/or shocking event, and as a result that person’s ability to cope becomes compromised.
Psychological trauma is a highly subjective experience, in which the same event or events can traumatize one person while leaving another individual unscathed. Trauma relies on to what extent the person believes their (or someone else’s) life, safety, or psychological well-being was threatened.
Reactions to trauma can vary from a mild reaction with no interruption in one’s daily life – to severe and debilitating reactions such as intense fear, horror, numbness, feeling helpless, anger and agitation, and/or withdrawal.
The Trauma of Coronavirus
If you or someone you know has personally been infected with the Coronavirus, the fear of and losing your life or that of a loved one is very real type of trauma.
Similarly, health care workers who are on the front lines fighting Coronavirus also experience very real trauma. They witness suffering and death, and are faced with life-or-death decisions at work daily, as well as fear of exposing themselves or their families to Covid-19 – all while working long, tireless hours.
And, even for the rest of the general public, the overall lifestyle change, social isolation, fear of contagion, job loss, and financial uncertainty can all lead to a trauma response. In short, almost anyone can be suffering from the “trauma” of the current coronavirus situation.
But, because not everyone who experiences a trauma, or even the exact same situation, will perceive or respond the same way, some people will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and some will not.
PTSD and Coronavirus Trauma
With a pandemic of this scale, it is safe to say that many, many people will experience some psychological post-trauma symptoms – but only some people will go on to develop actual PTSD.
If you are experiencing Coronavirus post-trauma symptoms – fear, horror, numbness, feelings of helplessness, anger, agitation, immobilization and/or withdrawal – it is important to know that this is normal to feel. Therapists call this cluster of symptoms “acute stress disorder”.
Up to 33 percent of people who have been exposed to a traumatic event (car accident, assault, shooting, etc.) in the general population may have acute stress disorder – but only an estimated 3.5% have PTSD.
Dealing with Acute Stress and PSTD from Coronavirus
Processing what you are experiencing, thinking, and feeling is the best way to prevent acute stress from developing into PTSD. This means NOT ignoring or trying to “forget about” your thoughts and emotions. It also means that you cannot simply “self-medicate” your emotions away with alcohol or drugs.
Working with a trained, experienced, and licensed therapist who is specialized in trauma is the best way to process the fear, numbness, helplessness or withdrawal caused by trauma exposure.
Oakland County Therapist – Coronavirus PTSD & Trauma
Telehealth / Telemedicine Video Appointments Available
I am an experienced trauma therapist in Oakland County, Michigan – and I am here to help you. With a warm, thoughtful, supportive and caring approach I will be happy to work with you to help you deal with the emotional and psychological trauma of the coronavirus pandemic.
I offer telehealth / telemedicine appointments – and I am available to talk to you via video chat to help you manage your feelings of fear, numbness, helplessness, anger, agitation, and/or withdrawal – so that you can live a happy and healthy life.
Talk to a Telehealth / Telemedicine Therapist About Coronavirus Trauma: 248-476-4515