Post-traumatic stress in crisis due to coronavirus pandemic

Current Coronavirus Emergency Speaks From Our Own Flesh. Some are at the foot of the canyon trying to save the situation (toilets, supermarket workers, food producers, transporters, security forces …) and some are waiting. Trying to avoid making the situation worse by staying at home , (in this case, all the others).

It is clear that this problem leaves no one indifferent. In addition to the stress felt at home and at work, there is uncertainty. “What will become of us when this is over?” Questions that almost all of us ask ourselves, and those who don’t, will. This is where we consider that the third line of confrontation comes in (first health, the second economic): the psychological battle not to lose the stirrups, maintain emotional balance and give hope.

Nowadays, people who tell us do it because of the personal crises they are going through.Whether it is anxiety attacks, obsessive uncontrolled thoughts, feelings of paranoia, coexistence conflicts … that is, the request is not about issues that have dragged on for a long time, but problems that are reappearing now, in the forties. .

In this line of confrontation, we must do resistance work, hold on to our trenches and, if possible, not break through. In other words, it is important prevent the onset of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression or what we want to outline in this article, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    post-traumatic stress

    Post-traumatic stress disorder, more technically defined, “is characterized by re-experiencing highly traumatic events, symptoms due to increased activation (arousal) and avoidance behavior of trauma-related stimuli. … ”(F43.1 in the DSM-V manual).

    In other words, the traumatic event is experienced as if it had not yet been left behind and invaded the present; the body activates as if facing the event over and over again, causing the brain to try to run away from anything that remembers this trauma.

    Obviously, this is a problem that we will not find during the crisis, but which will come after the fact, because in order for it to happen we have to go through the first overwhelming experience in which our physical or emotional integrity is seriously threatened. That is why we think it is very important to prevent it.

    When we talk about the threat to our physical or emotional integrity, we are not individualizing the effects, but rather we emphasize the importance that others have in this shock of life. It has been shown that the worst traumas are not those suffered in accidents or natural disasters, but those experienced in relation to other human beings.

    If we register in our brains that the threat is our own species, it is like learning that there is no safe place or refuge in the world. Here, the expression “Lupus est homo homini, non homo, Quom qualis sit non novit” takes on its full meaning, man is a wolf for man, when he does not recognize who the other is.

    Criteria for establishing the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder

    To talk about people vulnerable to developing PTSD, we want to highlight the criteria we follow.

    The level of psychological resilience of each person

    This factor will play an important role in these events. Be creative in the face of unfavorable circumstances, know how to express unpleasant feelings and ask for help, recognize the context in which you live not personalizing any reaction from others, knowing how to live in the present and not anticipating an uncertain future … these are qualities that help to not lose the feeling of control and, therefore, to reduce anxiety so that it does not make it become unbearable stress or suffering.

    The social support network

    According to resilience, it has the same relevance. Faced with the adversity that overwhelms us, having people who listen to us and understand us will alleviate this feeling of helplessness which is intensely weighed down by post-traumatic stress problems. If you are alone or your support network is poor, be careful and seek outside help if you need it.

    Who are the most vulnerable to development?

    Below we will see which people are most vulnerable to this post-traumatic stress disorder in quarantine, to give later some recommendations that help to mitigate its effects.

    1. Health personnel

    Due to the saturation of work, lack of resources and deaths with complete helplessness.

    2. Patients isolated in hospitals from infection

    By losing human contact long enough to experience it as abandonment, by experiencing the suffering as unbearable.

    3. Women and children victims of abuse

    Given that in the face of containment measures, they will be obliged (in part, by institutional order) to coexisting with those who hurt them, desperately. Once again, the feeling of social powerlessness repeats itself.

    4. People with a history of mental disorders or with high sensitivity

    Their limit to endure this situation is lower and makes them feel overwhelmed earlier.

    5. Self-employed workers or business owners are at serious risk

    Come threaten your future and that of your family dangerously, In addition to having insufficient support in the face of the circumstances.

    6. People with sick relatives or the elderly, as well as caregivers or volunteers

    As we mentioned above, anyone who calls us today does so with immense fear. Living with constant worry and fear eventually weakens defensesAnd if we add this to the impotence due to the loss of a loved one, the possibility of developing a disorder, in addition to experiencing a complex duel, increases dramatically.

    Recommendations to avoid

    Moreover, if the situation overflows, we panic, we lose someone, we do not know what to do and we perceive the helplessness of others, enough ingredients are mixed together to develop PTSD.

    Here are some tips to keep in mind to avoid this problem, although some of you may already have guessed from the rest of the text. As you well know, if professionals know how to deal with this psychological disorder, it is still very much linked to the social environment; for this reason, you can always contribute your grain of sand as part of this network of care.

    1. Pay attention to your emotions

    You will experience uncomfortable and overwhelming feelings if you haven’t already. These emotions are manifested both in the mind, in the body and in the way we act, so it is very important not to deny these feelings.

    Stop for a moment, focus on your breathing and be realistic with your feelings it will help you make responsible decisions and not get carried away by impulses, which will only increase anxiety with a “snowball” effect.

    2. Remember to be careful

    To take care of others, you have to be well. Bring daily hygiene routines, watch the news only 10 minutes a day, play sports at home, spend time cooking, Reading a good book, watching movies with the family … everything helps in that, in your situation, it helps you to balance your emotions and to continue from day to day.

      3. Stay connected

      Phone calls, video calls … are designed for just that, to stay connected wherever we are. We take advantage of the good of social media and stay connected to give each other support and hope. If isolation and abandonment is the worst culture medium for PTSD, let’s look into our eyes even if it’s in front of a screen.

      4. Faced with the inevitable, be in the present

      We will not deny the reality, there will be circumstances in which it is impossible to avoid isolation and a feeling of helplessness. Live the loss of a loved one, work like [email protected] and overwhelmed, falling ill and living in isolation for several days …

      For that, strategies for staying in the present will help you not get carried away with what it was and what it will be, And will keep your mind active by working for your emotional balance. Applause on the balconies, donations and messages of support, letters to the sick … are examples of what we can do as human beings to overcome this harsh trance.

      It’s never too late, believe that one-on-one help and support can come once it’s over and regain your well-being

      Author: Juan Fernández-Rodríguez Labordeta, psychologist in Rising Therapeutics.

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