Covid-19 Increases Stress And Traumatic Stress Disorders Including Drug Abuse And Fatal Overdoses

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that is caused by a traumatic experience in a person’s life, such as military combat, sexual abuse, violence, disasters, or acts of terrorism. Symptoms often include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and depression as well as uncontrollable and intrusive thoughts surrounding the events that caused the PTSD. Covid-19 has created so many stressors from strained finances to grieving the death of loved ones to the moral trauma of global leaders mishandling or ignoring the crisis. It is likely that an unprecedented amount of people have and will experience PTSD related to the effects of Covid-19. A recent study demonstrated the prevalence of PTSD in 30.2% of patients after acute Covid-19 infection

This alone is a grave concern as our health systems are not currently equipped to care for and treat such an influx of patients and even access to mental health care remains a convoluted issue. Amplifying the crisis is that PTSD and substance abuse disorders are commonly linked as co-occurring disorders. Research consistently demonstrates that individuals who suffer from trauma or PTSD are more likely to have problems with substance dependence. The U.S. National Comorbidity Survey revealed that 34.5% of men and 26.9% of women who had PTSD at some point in their lifetime also had a problem with drug abuse or dependence. Based on this knowledge, substance abuse and addiction could even be seen as manifesting as a symptom of PTSD.

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Originally published on Forbes on April 12, 2021
© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.