The long-term mental health effects of coronavirus will be felt everywhere: even in your mouth.
Experiencing intense flashbacks, nightmares, irritability, anger, and fear? In the face of a traumatic event like the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s common to feel this way.
While many people associate post-traumatic stress disorder with something like war, it’s a chronic psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as a serious accident, terrorist attack or a physical assault.
The Covid-19 pandemic could have a similar effect. Even if you aren’t clinically diagnosed with PTSD, you may have a strong emotional reaction to the trauma of Covid-19 that can last long after an incident.
The coronavirus pandemic is making thousands of people physically sick, but it’s also inflicting emotional trauma on many more, said an Emory professor who is leading an effort to provide mental health support to front-line health care workers and the public. As the death toll rises, and the weeks of social distancing turns into months, people are increasingly feeling angry, irritable, anxious and depressed. Many are having sleep problems, and current anxiety may even contribute to teeth clenching, and jaw pain.
We keep hearing “we’re all in this together”…but we truly are. None of us really know what the other side will look like, but we promise we’ll be there for you when we arrive (hopefully soon!) Until then, here are a few calming coping strategies we’re going to try.
Foster and re-invent wellness
During these warm, spring days, just being outside can be a pleasant experience. Consider planting flowers, having a meal outdoors or simply listening to the birds. Seek out online videos on deep breathing and mindfulness, which can help you live in the moment and relax. Try to eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids and avoid turning to alcohol to help manage your stress.
Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Technology can help people stay connected through apps, social media and video calls. Kaslow said some people are using this time to connect with friends they hadn’t talked to in several years. Skip the chit chat, she said. This is a time for more meaningful conversations.
Show compassion to yourself and others
Promote team work and show compassion to others. Maybe it’s helping a neighbor or older adult who needs more assistance. Be kind to yourself. Remember, we are under tremendous levels of stress. Everyone is learning as they go, and mistakes are inevitable.