Anyone can be affected by post-traumatic stress—and increasingly, anyone can find treatment
The onset of COVID-19 has made everyone more mindful of their health—both physically and mentally. But while many people are coming to terms with an increased occurrence and worsening of more well-known issues like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, there’s another mental health concern that needs attention: PTSD.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is not a new condition. During World War I, it was referred to as “shell shock,” and later, “combat fatigue.” But whatever the name, we now know that PTSD doesn’t just happen to soldiers returning from combat. It can affect anyone of any age or background who has experienced, witnessed, or even learned of a serious accident, a violent act, a natural disaster, or threats of death or bodily harm. And it also impacts victims of racial injustice and those who have lost loved ones or experienced trauma caused by the pandemic.
“PTSD patients have intense anxiety, irritability, poor sleep, and a hyperawareness of their surroundings. A lot of the symptoms overlap with signs of depression, so it can be hard to identify," says Lauren Crumpler BSN, RN, Nurse Educator of Behavioral Health at Covenant Health System.
But even though the name has changed to reflect the broader impact, PTSD’s reputation as a scar from the battlefield endures. And that fact not only prevents civilians from seeking help—it also might make the problem worse.
In other parts of the world you don't have to ask for help; it's built into the way things are. Here, you have to humble yourself.
If you or someone you know is in need of assistance with mental health concerns, please visit work2bewell.org/wellnessresources. Please know there’s always help available whenever you need to talk to someone. Reach out to the Crisis Text Line (Text TALK to 741741) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK to talk to someone who can help.
They have the textbook reactions, but they don’t see it. They think PTSD is only for people with trauma in their past. But we’ve learned that we all have some trauma in our past.
— Lauren Crumpler, BSN, RN
Nurse Educator of Behavioral Health Services at Covenant Health System
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“There is added guilt because they are experiencing these feelings, but they haven’t gone to war,” says Crumpler. “They don’t feel they are worthy of the name ‘PTSD.’”
“When I first got into nursing school and thought of PTSD, I automatically thought of war veterans,” says Crumpler. “But we’ve since learned that we all have some trauma in our past.”
With no shortage of traumatic events in the region, Covenant is trying to raise public awareness of PTSD and train its nurses and physicians to spot the symptoms in people who need help. Because whether it’s the loss of a friend or loved one to COVID-19; the loss of a job or career due to the economic downturn; or some pre-existing experience with emotional, sexual, or physical abuse that is exacerbated by the current stress; everyone is fighting their own personal battle.