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Covid-19 and nurse mental health. Frontline PTSD & the Pandemic

Updated: Dec 8, 2023


Covid-19 and nurse mental health. PTSD & the Pandemic

The recent pandemic created lots of new stressors that were difficult for many people to cope with. This included people who previously had no mental health problems.


If you were someone who had PTSD before the pandemic, you might have found it harder to keep yourself well during this time. New stressors such as fears about getting sick, worrying about loved ones, social isolation, job changes, and children being at home were sudden changes with no known ending for things returning to normal.


 



 


An increase in PTSD Symptoms due to COVID-19

For people already experiencing the effects of PTSD, the recent pandemic added extra stress and uncertainty, causing an increase in PTSD symptoms. When you already feel the world is unsafe, a pandemic can make the world seem like a dangerous place; many changes happen in a short space of time with little time to adjust.


 



Here are some PTSD symptoms that may have been exacerbated due to the pandemic:


Feeling more on edge or unsafe in previously considered safe environments.

● It may trigger more trauma as people speak about COVID as if fighting a war or an invisible enemy.

● You may have found yourself not doing things that were still considered safe, like shopping for basics, looking after your health, or keeping in touch with friends on the phone.

● You may have experienced an increase in negative thoughts and feelings.

● Problems with sleep and concentration.

● Increased alcohol consumption





PTSD in Frontline Staff

Nurses and healthcare workers were praised and respected during the pandemic for their work on the front line.


While the outpouring of appreciation is welcomed, it doesn't help nurses deal with the lasting effects of the pandemic. Reports of PTSD in nurses have risen in the last three years.


Some of the issues raised by nurses that have contributed to PTSD symptoms include:


Direct threat: Being in direct contact with COVID for many has led to chronic stress as they worry about themselves, their families, and their patients.

Increased death exposure: Being exposed to more critically ill patients and seeing more than usual deaths on each shift took its toll on nurses

Being overworked: It is no secret that nurses have been overworked for years, but the unique stress of the pandemic created chronic overworking situations and many staffing issues with both training and retaining nurses.



What's a healthy way to cope with PTSD?

Follow the tips below to develop healthy ways to cope with the effects of PTSD


● Seek PTSD treatment. This could be through medication or talking therapies.

● Take part in activities that are fulfilling and that you enjoy.

● Practice good self-care skills and be kind to yourself.

● Get good quality sleep.

● Take part in physical activity

● Eat a healthy diet

● Limit screen time, especially before bed

● Maintain a regular daily routine as much as possible.

● Limit your exposure to the news and social media



 

Reflection

  1. How was your mental health during the pandemic?

  2. If you've suffered from PTSD, what were your main symptoms?

  3. Were your symptoms increased due to work?


 

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