Will COVID-19 Influence PTSD?

Content Warning: This article has mentions of COVID-related illness, mental health concerns, and death that may not be suitable for all readers.

The sudden onset of COVID-19 has been stressful, intrusive, and potentially damaging. Each person has been affected in their own unique way by this pandemic. Unemployment has reached 14.7% – the highest it has been since 1940. Over 33,000 people have fallen ill in Arkansas, and over 350 have died with the toll continuing to rise daily. Our frontline medical staff are working tirelessly to provide life-saving care to those in need.

There are many ways that COVID-19 has changed the world we live in, all of which may have long-lasting effects. Medical experts are expecting a surge in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) cases from these experiences.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. PTSD symptoms can present themselves in a number of ways. PTSD can present itself through recurrent and intrusive memories of trauma, such as nightmares or flashbacks. Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event, such as distressing memories, and locations or people associated with the trauma is another recognizable symptom of PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD can also change a person’s mood. Someone with PTSD may experience feelings of guilt, anger, shame, and loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities. Some experience increased stimulation, which can cause trouble sleeping and hypervigilance, the sensation of being on higher alert to prevent potential danger. The fallout from COVID-19 is likely to create or worsen mental health issues, including PTSD, for many.

COVID-19 Patients

Patients admitted for COVID-19 treatment may experience physical discomfort, social isolation, and fear of death. Per the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, the patients that have been infected and hospitalized with COVID-19 are likely to develop PTSD symptoms after being intubated and spending prolonged periods of time in the ICU.

Surviving the physical ailments and hospitalization of COVID-19 can have a great impact on the individual’s mental health. Following recovery, patients might deal with additional side effects such as lung damage or mental illness. These factors, events, and illnesses can increase the rate for developing COVID-related PTSD.

Medical Professionals

Healthcare workers have seen and experienced increased supply and demand issues, illness, and death as a result of the pandemic. These experiences can be traumatic and can lead to the development of PTSD. Most healthcare workers do not have the option to avoid their workplace after experiencing such events due to the increased need for medical professionals to combat COVID-19.


The unemployment crisis may prove to be traumatic for many. Due to the fallout from COVID-19, the unemployment rate has reached an 80-year high. Losing the support of a consistent paycheck and the stress this may cause could lead to the emergence of PTSD symptoms.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, a clinical research study with Preferred Research Partners may be able to help. Sign up to learn more.