How the Covid-19 pandemic impacted our mental health

Girl lying down with Covid-19 maskThese past two years have been very difficult for most people. When they first announced the lockdown we didn’t know what to expect, but I am sure most of us didn’t think that two years later we will still be in this space. It should be over already, right?

The ongoing pandemic and the restrictions it placed on us has caused a lot of mental health problems. Businesses are still closing down, and with that unemployment is still rising. People are still losing loved ones, or grieving for those they lost at the height of things.

The lock-down has changed a lot of us for ever. Humans are social beings and need to interact with other humans. We lost that ability. Even though the lock-down has been lifted for some time, a lot of people still struggle to get back to life as it was before. Some even developed social anxiety. The world is not the same …

We have lost a lot and we are struggling. Because things has changed so much, our normal coping mechanism aren’t working anymore. We need something else, we need something suitable to the times we are living in now. Not having suitable coping mechanisms, simply put, means that we are not coping. We are under a lot of stress and experiencing trauma.

Why does the pandemic cause trauma?
Well, trauma is a natural response to an unnatural event. Anything no matter how big or small can cause trauma. Anyone who has gone through a traumatic event, or has even witnessed something traumatic, can be affected. There are many different events that can cause someone to react badly.

Causes of trauma

  •         Natural disaster – PANDEMIC
  •         Seeing a trauma
  •         Going through or seeing violence often
  •         Death of a loved one
  •         An accident
  •         Robbery
  •         High-jacking, smash & grab
  •         Work-related stress
  •         Unemployment
  •         Domestic violence
  •         Divorce or a break-up
  •         Having a terminal illness like cancer or AIDS
  •         Assault or abuse

Common feelings and symptoms after a traumatic event
After a traumatic event there are certain symptoms you can expect to experience. For most people, these symptoms get less and go away after a couple of weeks. However, if they continue for 6 weeks or longer, it may lead to depression, anxiety or PTSD.

Normal symptoms and reactions include:

    •         Nightmares
    •         Sleeping difficulties
    •         Changes in appetite
    •         Anxiety and fear
    •         Irritable, agitated, or angry
    •         Very aware and ready to act
    •         No energy, feeling tired all the time
    •         Feeling depressed/sad mood, crying a lot of the time
    •         Avoiding people, places and things that remind you of the event
    •         Not being able to concentrate on work or normal, everyday activities
    •         Feeling worried about the safety of the people that you love

What can I do?
It is important to be gentle on yourself and give yourself time to get better. Having lived through a trauma stresses both the mind and body. A person who has gone through a trauma cannot expect to behave and act as they normally do straight after the trauma. It is important to be patient with yourself and practise self-care. At this stage it is also a good idea to avoid making any big life decisions. If the symptoms continue for more than a few weeks you should consider going for trauma counselling.

Trauma counselling is a good way of coping with the experience. You may go for individual appointments where you can talk through the experience and work through the painful feelings such as anger, sadness, guilt, anxiety, feeling overly emotional, etc. Talking through your experience will help you make sense of what is going on and bring some much needed relief. Suppressing emotions is never a good idea. In counselling you will also learn some valuable coping mechanisms and you will be able to enjoy life to the fullest again.

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