Hi friends. I am starting to see signs of people moving from acute stress into symptoms of PTSD, due to COVID. I have linked to the DSM criteria here . PTSD includes panic attacks by symptom definition, but needs greater specificity around the cause as outlined in the first section. If you know anyone who has died due to COVID you may be at greater risk. If you have a history of PTSD you may become more easily activated. The main signs are 1) the intrusiveness of symptoms (nightmares, anxiety etc), 2) negative mood (dysphoria) and decreased cognitive functioning 3) avoidance through numbing, substances, isolation etc. Some people will experience severe dissociative symptoms including feelings of unreality, surreality or like they cannot find themselves. Some may experience profound difficulty with memory as the overtaxed hippocampus fails to convert short-term memory to long-term memory (a very common symptom!). Your body may start to ache, or you may become dizzy or nauseous which compounds the alarm since these are also signs of COVID.
I think we are in the beginning of a PTSD epidemic concurrent with COVID, made worse by the lack of a caring, effective and empathic response by our national leaders. You may be confused about what you are experiencing since PTSD is a very PHYSICAL condition, not just something “in your head”. “Good thoughts” cannot change it; that would be like getting a band-aid on an amputation. Anyone is susceptible. With enough traumas piling up nationally we all may have PTSD when this is over. You cannot get too much help or do too much self-care at this time. Your nervous system and neuroendocrine system are being greatly taxed. Find regular times to lower anxiety and have fun. Be vigilant about reducing stress, even the relatively minor stress of watching a violent or scary TV show or movie. Peel the stress onion by letting go of even little stressors and take action 2x/day to lower your anxiety baseline through relaxation, meditation, gardening, yoga, walking or whatever helps you get into “rest and digest” mode safely. Your adrenals will thank you! Honor your need to be safe and whole and take good care of yourselves, including getting safe anti-anxiety meds on board as needed. Love and Reiki to all of you. STags: covid, neurology, psychology, PTSD, Susan Pease Banitt