“Covid- Post Trauma Stress” 1 August 2021



Q. I am a middle-aged woman and I have suffered a lot in the last one year. First, I lost my brother who was a doctor and was working in COVID hospital. He contacted COVID and struggled for several weeks with it but finally passed away. It was a big shock for the family and specially for me because we were very close to each other and he was my elder brother. I have not got over his death. After that we saw more deaths in the family – one of my uncle died and also two more people from my extended family passed away due to COVID. All this left a deep sense of sorrow in my mind and the family. Still, we managed to go on with life and try to be as normal as possible. Recently I had a minor fall on the road as I was shopping for groceries and I injured my knee. Now I have lost confidence in myself and I have also lost my sleep since last few weeks after the fall. I worry a lot and when I go to sleep at night my mind becomes blank and sleep does not come. I tried taking small little pill but it did not help much. I live alone as I lost my husband many years ago and my one child lives abroad. He cares for me and wants me to join him abroad since he is studying and also working simultaneously. He cannot leave his course in between and come back for me. I don’t want to spoil his life and future. Nor do I want to go abroad and get stuck there. I have my little work here and so far I was happy in my little world. Now I feel scared, I feel worried, I have lost my confidence, I have lost my sleep, and I don’t know what to do? Please help me. Do I need counseling? Do I need medicines? Am I falling sick and developing a disorder? I need your advice.

Ans. As I read your story, I realize the hardships you have undergone in your life from the pre-Covid times to Covid times. I feel although you have been braving it out and struggling very hard with your personal losses and family losses, the continued series of losses have impacted your mind like chronic stressors typically do. There is a tipping point, when we can take no more and the stress converts into a stress-disorder. I don’t want to scare you with any notion that you are now ‘mentally ill’, but definitely the accumulated stress is now showing up on your mind and body through various symptoms. One of the symptoms is -lack of sleep, the other symptom is anxiety and excessive worry, and the last one is loss of confidence. Along with this could be symptoms of mild depression. You also survived Covid. And lost near and dear ones to Covid. There is something called ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’ (PTSD), which has impacted many people in similar situations as yours. They are still reeling under post-Covid symptoms of physical weakness and fear of an unknown future of mental and physical well-being. Will they be completely alright? Will more people from the family get infected? Will they lose more dear ones? And so on and so forth goes the thoughts. All this subliminal thinking leads to loss of sleep and depression. You would need sessions of counseling to empty your mind and understand the pent- up emotions. You need to share your thoughts with a professional psychologist who understands mental disorders. You would be helped to learn meditation and relaxation techniques and start practicing them daily. Staying alone is not the best option under the situation—if you can go and stay with a sister or a sister like friend, would be a good choice, even for a couple of weeks. Your problem is not very serious, let me re-assure you, but it definitely needs attention. You will be fine soon and back to your normal healthy self.


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