Tamar Rodney, PhD, PMHNP-BC: Get Help Now for COVID-Related Trauma Symptoms; Research Will Catch Up

COVID-related PTSD symptoms like avoidance, increased irritability, and bad sleep are very real.

Symptoms may not occur all at once, but it's important to acknowledge them and seek help.

Research on the definitive effects of COVID-related trauma may need to catch up since the stressors of the pandemic are new and ongoing, but the sooner people address their traumatic experiences, the better their outcome in the short- and long-term.

Tamar Rodney, PhD, PMHNP-BC, CNE is an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Her research and clinical work focus primarily on improving PTSD diagnosis and treatment.

For information about treatments for PTSD please visit The Treatment Hub.

COVID-related trauma, unfortunately, is very real. When we diagnose it, clinically we say we wait for three to six months after an event. Well, we’re way past three to six months. We are at three times that, actually. What I will say is that how the symptoms, and by symptoms I mean sleep or avoiding or nightmares, are experienced, they don’t all come at once, nor do we acknowledge them at once.

What we actually do is compensate. And so a full diagnose of COVID-related trauma might not happen for a while, and research might not catch up for a while.

What we have to do now is deal with the symptoms as they come. If you’re not sleeping properly, that’s something you need to take care of. You will find that you’re snapping at other individuals very quickly for no reason. When I call it “no reason at all”, but that’s not usually you. That is a warning sign to say that something isn’t quite right and that you need to start responding to that. Or you see other individuals around you who are not themselves, and those are the nuanced ways we described it, that you’re not yourself. But it’s a warning light again to say something should be done. So, let’s not wait for research to catch up.

What we’re doing is experiencing real life right now and an opportunity to deal with those things and deal with humans as humans and wait for the research to say here is the evidence of what you’ve been experiencing, and we move on from there. But I think it’s so important to acknowledge it right now and act right now even without getting those predefined research labels.

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Posted on BrainLine November 23, 2021. Reviewed November 23, 2021.