KEY POINTS

  • In general, nearly 20% of those discharged from ICU report symptoms of PTSD
  • Health experts recommend PTSD screening for COVID-19 survivors
  • Their experiences in fighting for their lives could lead to mental health problems like PTSD

Seriously ill COVID-19 patients who required hospitalization need to be urgently screened for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), experts said. Contracting the deadly novel coronavirus disease can be a stressful and traumatic experience and is likely to cause PTSD in severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The experts at the University College London who led the COVID-19 Trauma Response Working Group believe those individuals who required intensive care were most likely to suffer from PTSD. They opine tens of thousands of COVID-19 patients who have been hospitalized might have been seriously ill enough to be at risk of PTSD. In general, nearly 20% of those discharged from ICU report symptoms of PTSD, the team estimated.

“Given the very frightening and invasive nature of the Covid-19 critical care experience, the imminent risk of death and the potential for long-term medical complications, those most severely affected by Covid-19 are likely to be at high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder and other stress-related mental health difficulties,” News Medical quoted Dr. Michael Bloomfield from University College London.

PTSD is a condition people who experience shocking, scary, or dangerous events might develop.

Most individuals with PTSD might experience symptoms such as flashbacks, frightening thoughts, nightmares, racing heartbeat, fear of places that remind them of their traumatic experience, angry bouts, loss of interest, etc. within three months of a traumatic event. These symptoms might be experienced for over a month and can be severe enough to affect work, everyday activities, and relationships.

The researchers estimated there could be tens of thousands of COVID-19 patients at risk of PTSD due to their serious illness. Given the invasive and frightening nature of the coronavirus critical care experience, death risk, and potential long-term consequences, these severely ill COVID-19 patients might be at an increased risk of developing PTSD.

Some clinical manifestations unique to the coronavirus infection might also negatively impact the mental and psychological health of these patients. Also, isolation from loved ones during and after hospitalization may worsen their mental health.Survivors of coronavirus outbreaks have also reported fear of stigma, of contracting the disease again, of contaminating others and chronic syndrome, researchers mentioned in their guidance on screening and active monitoring for PTSD and other mental health consequences in COVID-19 survivors. 

The researchers recommend actively monitoring and providing immediate treatment for COVID-19 survivors for mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

PTSD A lawsuit stated, Thursday, a Brooklyn school suspended an intellectually disabled student who was gang-raped by male students, Feb. 5, 2016. Photo: Pixabay