Our whole family seems to be experiencing some levels of PTSD from the pandemic. Different from my own issues from being in combat. My wife is depressed and super anxious, seemingly afraid of everything, and my kids seem a lot less outgoing. And I just feel exhausted and unmotivated 24/7. How can we start to heal as a family?
Talking about how you feel is the most important thing. Sharing your feelings can help you all feel more supported and can just give you the vent to continue moving. Healing will take time. Planning positive activities to do together that can gradually reconnect you with the world as things reopen can be especially helpful. We have all been through the extended trauma of the pandemic. Each of us has felt this impact in a different way. It is okay to not be okay AND it is okay to ask for help. Take the time you need to be kind to yourself and do the things that make you feel valued and give you a sense of accomplishment. Lots of self-help resources are available to work on positive coping and new goals. Right now, Dr. Barbara Rothbaum and I are even working on an app to help process experiences from the pandemic and get back to life that should be made available over the next several months. You do not have to wait, though. Talking with people about tough memories can be a good start.
Sheila A.M. Rauch, PhD, ABPP, is the Deputy Director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program and Director of Mental Health Research and Program Evaluation at the VA Atlanta Healthcare System. Dr. Rauch has been developing programs, conducting research and providing PTSD and Anxiety Disorders treatment for over 20 years. Her research focuses on examination of mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of PTSD and improving access to effective interventions.