Post-traumatic stress disorder inquiries have 'risen by 80%' since the pandemic

There’s a link between Covid and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health group has found.

Inquiries to Priory, who specialise in mental health, about treatment for PTSD have increased sharply over the last 18 months.

There is a rising number of people newly living with the condition due to the stress of the pandemic.

Now, 80% more inquiries are being made about getting help for PTSD when compared to last year.

Some 379 people contacted the Priory in 2020 compared to 714 this year – which hasn’t even ended yet.

Pre-pandemic, there’s a notable change too as inquiries are 59% higher still.

The company says a number of patients have experienced PTSD as a result of being referred to hospital for severe Covid.

For some of those people, they were put on ventilators and being treated in wards that saw other patients die.

Other new sufferers include those working on the frontline in healthcare.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Paul McLaren says: ‘Psychological trauma from the COVID-19 pandemic and illness is having an effect.

‘Many have been experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression, or are struggling with substance misuse difficulties.

Symptoms of PTSD

Dr McLaren says most commonly: ‘They are likely to re-experience the trauma, through flashbacks or nightmares.

‘It is also common for people with trauma-related symptoms to have sleeping difficulties such as insomnia as well as symptoms of generalised anxiety and depression.’

People can also experience pains and dizziness, among other symptoms.

‘Others are struggling with symptoms of grief or PTSD.

‘Many of these are people who have closely experienced the COVID-19 illness, including people who have contracted the virus and become unwell themselves, or those who have very sadly lost loved ones.

‘Our colleagues in front-line services are also faced with the trauma of losing patients under their care.’

He believes people are experiencing a feeling of being constantly in danger.

‘It can be really distressing. They have intrusive memories of their experiences of the delirium and the traumatic things they have seen in that state.

‘This manifests itself in nightmares and flashbacks, in which they get memories of their hallucinations which can be very upsetting,’ he adds.

Treatment for PTSD

The Priory Group say: ‘There are different types of medication that can be prescribed. Typically, the prescription of this medication is initiated and monitored initially by a psychiatrist.

‘There are also specific psychological interventions that can be offered such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (TF-CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.

‘PTSD can be successfully treated, even if the symptoms appeared some time after the initial trauma, with the type of treatment depending on the severity of the symptoms and how soon they have appeared after the event.

‘Anyone concerned about PTSD symptoms, should discuss it with their GP, who can refer them to a specialist and other services.’

This is yet further proof of how badly the pandemic has damaged the mental health of the nation, as the clinic have also found in spike in anxiety related inquiries too.

This sad trend is likely to continue as the effects of the pandemic keep unfolding.

Need support? Contact the Samaritans

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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