Study Discovers Link Between Pandemic Fears, PTSD

Researchers from Flinders University conducted an online study that explored different individuals’ responses to the coronavirus pandemic. The study involved 1,040 participants from five Western nations. The researchers discovered that 13.2% of the sample from these countries had symptoms associated with PTSD that qualified for a clinical diagnosis. This in spite of the fact that only 5% of the total number of participants reported that close friends and family had tested positive for the coronavirus and only 2% disclosed that they had tested positive themselves.

The survey, which was conducted online, analyzed a range of responses to common symptoms of post-traumatic stress, such as thoughts and memories about the coronavirus pandemic as well as repeated unwanted and disturbing images.

The group of psychology researchers explained that with the rising death toll and the ongoing social and economic fallout, more should be done to help individuals across the globe cope with the possible long- and short-term increase in post-traumatic disorder cases that have stemmed from the pandemic. This is in addition to the mental health problems associated with the situation, such as psychosocial functioning, depression and anxiety.

Associate professor Melanie Takarangi, the study’s lead researcher, stated that the worldwide pandemic didn’t fit into the current PTSD diagnostic criteria or models, with the research conducted showing that the pandemic increased the risk of triggering symptoms of traumatic stress. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD in short, is a psychiatric disorder that is characterized by invasive recollections that occur in individuals who have either witnessed a traumatic event or been exposed to it. Traumatic events may include but are not exclusive to serious accidents, natural disasters, sexual assault or rape.

Victoria Bridgland, co-author of the study, explained that the researchers discovered that traumatic stress was connected to future events, which could either be nonlife threatening or life threatening, such as coming into direct contact with the deadly coronavirus.

Bridgland, who is currently pursuing a PhD that studies various triggers of PTSD, stated that the team’s findings also emphasized the need to concentrate on the serious psychological distress that has been linked to the coronavirus while also conducting more research to build onto research carried out last year that show the detrimental psychological effects of the coronavirus on mental health.

The team of researchers then concluded that long-term evidence of coronavirus-related traumatic stress reactions, which was also extensive, would allow health-care professionals to assist individuals who might have been overlooked or neglected.

In addition to this, the researchers noted that the psychological impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which had subsequently been named the second curve, was forecasted to last anywhere between some months to a few years, leading them to believe that the psychological blowbacks of the pandemic would have more drawbacks than its medical outcomes.

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