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COVID-19 survivors at risk for PTSD: Here’s how to cope with it

Researchers stress the need for long-term psychological interventions for COVID-19 survivors.

Studies have revealed that a significant number of COVID-19 survivors suffered from PTSD before being released from quarantine. Read to know more about the post-traumatic stress symptoms and tips to deal with it.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which first emerged in Wuhan, China late last year, has so far killed 146,198 people worldwide, according to the WHO's latest update. In addition, the pandemic is causing tremendous psychological distress among people, even leading to the development of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD was also the most common psychiatric disorder to arise after the SARS outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to result in similar health concern. A study results published in medRxiv reported the prevalence of acute post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) among Chinese citizens after the COVID-19 outbreak.

The researchers from the Naval Medical University, Shanghai, China, warned that PTSD symptoms might be far more severe in the entire population as a result of the pandemic. They also noted that PTSS may affect a larger percentage of the population in countries without prior exposure to serious epidemics.

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PTSD PREVALENT AMONG COVID-19 SURVIVORS

Another study, published in the journal Psychological Medicine on March 27th, investigated if PTSD was prevalent within COVID-19 survivors. The research found that a significant number of COVID-19 survivors suffered from PTSD before being released from quarantine.

Social isolation, perceived danger, uncertainty, physical discomfort, medication side effects, fear of virus transmission to others, and overwhelming negative news portrayal in mass media coverage, are some factors that might contribute to PTSD symptoms in patients with COVID-19, the study highlighted.

The researchers also suggested COVID-19 treatment should not stop once the patients are released from isolation. They stressed the need for long-term psychological interventions for survivors of the virus.

Therefore, it is important to stay socially connected to others even when physically separated. Text messaging, phone calls, and video conferencing are some options to stay socially united at this time of pandemic.

HOW TO OVERCOME DISTRESSING PTSD SYMPTOMS

People with PTSD often struggle with frequent and intense symptoms of anxiety, which influence them to rely on unhealthy ways of coping, such as drug or alcohol use. However, there are a number of healthy ways of dealing with anxiety. These include

Deep Breathing

Improve your breathing by learning to breathe deeply with your diaphragm. This will help combat anxiety and stress. How to breathe deeply - When you breathe in, your belly should expand and when you breathe out, your belly should fall. But people tend to forget how to breathe this way and instead use their chest and shoulders. This causes short and shallow breaths, which in turn increases stress and anxiety.

Relaxation exercises

There are various relaxation exercises relaxation techniques that can help you evoke the relaxation response and reduce stress. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are powerful relaxation techniques to reduce your stress and anxiety.

Social Support

Finding support from others can significantly help overcome the negative effects of a traumatic event and PTSD. Talking to someone you trust can be very helpful when you are experiencing anxiety. It is an excellent way of improving your mood, which will help work through stressful situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.

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