Here are 6 Subtle Signs to look out for.
Evidence suggests that emotions linked to the pandemic, such as fear, stress, isolation and the grief it has caused – has been a major stressor which could be causing all kinds of PTSD-like symptoms. Research has found that 85% of people taking part in the research were experiencing at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress in 2020 and early 2021.
A study found that about one-quarter of participants met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, an increase from the usual PTSD rate of 5% in the general population and four times higher than the rates of PTSD observed in soldiers.
If you’ve felt edge or noticed that you’ve been more negative of late, sensitive or withdrawn, Covid-related trauma could be at play. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have PTSD. Many of us may be experiencing a degree of PTSD-like symptoms. There is no need to feel worried until those symptoms start impacting on your daily life, and at this point could become a cause for concern. The effects of trauma can impact on us – no matter how mild or severe they are and here are some signs to look out for:
You are super edgy
One very pronounced symptom of trauma is hypervigilance. After a traumatic event occurs, people with PTSD tend to have trouble feeling grounded or centred in various situations or relationships. Experiencing or witnessing trauma can put us in an activated state where we’re constantly scanning for the next threat. Because all of our energy gets focused on survival, hypervigilance can lead to difficulty concentrating and focusing. For many people, this manifests as a big emotional response to small issues or stressors.
Another good example of hypervigilance: feeling extremely anxious and sensitive to coughs and sneezes around you.
You’re feeling fatigued
Emotional exhaustion and physical exhaustion are not traditional post-traumatic stress responses, but in the context of this pandemic – where the traumatic stressors are ongoing, many people are feeling fatigued.
When our bodies go into our natural flight or fight mode, as they do during traumatic experiences, we use up a lot of energy. Throw in the fact that our stress systems have been chronically activated with stressor after stressor, and it’s only natural that we’re going to feel physically and mentally depleted. Trauma can be draining.
You’ve been particularly negative
Trauma often leads to intrusive, negative thoughts. In the wake of trauma, people can find it difficult to look into the future with hope, and feel positive about anything in their life. Some people develop a negative perception of themselves and their self-esteem may take a hit.
You have more physical aches and pains
Traumatic stress, especially when it’s ongoing and chronic, can affect our physical health. Over time, stress and trauma can result in decreased immune functioning along with increased tension and pain throughout the body.
Physical pain comes can manifest itself in many different ways — some people develop migraines and headaches, while others experience digestive issues, increased blood pressure, back pain or joint pain.
You haven’t been sleeping well
PTSD can lead to all sorts of sleep issues, including insomnia, problems falling and staying asleep as well as nightmares. Research suggests that up to 91% of people with PTSD have issues with getting a regular and refreshing nights’ sleep.
Sleep issues are sometimes overlooked, but they impact everything we do. Sleep resets the mind and body, and a lack of sleep can really disrupt our quality of life and daily functioning, such as our focus and ability to make sound decisions.
You’ve been withdrawn
Avoiding or withdrawing from other people is another common effect of being exposed to trauma. With Covid specifically, many people are having trouble reengaging with friends and work colleagues and getting out to places we once enjoyed.
There’s a difference between physically distancing to lower your chances of being exposed to Covid and being held back by fear and deciding to avoid any opportunity to be social. There are still ways to connect with others in the context of Covid. Withdrawing could be seen as an issue when you are no longer able to do the things that makes life meaningful for you.
How to manage these symptoms
The first step is recognising when these symptoms are affecting you, particularly when they are hindering our ability to function. In the event that they symptoms are impacting on your life significantly, Horizons Coaching can help.
In the meantime engaging yourself socially with friends and family and exercising regularly will make a difference. Be patient and listen to your body. Symptoms can appear at any time, sometimes months or years after the traumatic event, and there is no set path or time frame for recovery.
Remember that you aren’t alone and that so many others are experiencing physical and emotional symptoms as a result of all the pandemic trauma. What is important to remember is our response are quite normal, it is the circumstances that are abnormal. The pandemic has been on the news daily and it has changed every aspect of our lives.
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Here are 6 Subtle Signs to look out for.