2 MIN READ
April 12, 2021
Do you find yourself avoiding subjects you enjoyed or even worse, you’ve completely lost interest in learning? Are you having moments of adrenaline burst when you’re just sitting around doing nothing? What about laughing at something serious or feeling really sad at something funny? Those deadlines that came at the end of the semester, did you find yourself wanting to throw your hands up and ignore them completely? This is how our responses can be when we’ve been exposed to a traumatic event. We are all collectively experiencing a worldwide traumatic event from Covid-19 in varying degrees.
When something traumatic occurs, depending on several risk factors and intensity, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD can develop. The symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event in nightmares, avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma, having negative changes in your beliefs, and feeling keyed up. Trauma can present as willful disobedience, extreme distrust, difficulty managing friendships, and extreme or unmatched emotions. We can all see how this is playing out across social media in regards to people’s responses to Covid-19: extreme distrust, rampant conspiracy theories, or even denial of the seriousness of our situation.
Trauma changes the brain. When someone experiences a scary event, their brain is flooded with stress hormones to keep them safe. For example, when triggered your brain will take over your body with the stress hormones that will signal you to either fight, flight, or freeze. This is a natural response that our brain and body do to keep us alive and safe. For COVID-19 this probably looks like protesting at the state capital (fighting), an obsessive hoarding of toilet paper (flight), or being paralyzed in fear (freeze).
The key is to settle your brain is by disarming the fear. There are some practical strategies you can use to bring yourself a sense of control and relief. How do we do that?
Most importantly, if your experience of COVID-19 is unbearable and you need more support, reach out! The Louisiana Department of Health has launched a mental health hotline, “Keeping Calm Through COVID,” at 1-866-310-7977. It is open 24/7.
Need more coping strategies? Check out our blog Minding Your Mental Health during Covid-19.