Doctors concerned about PTSD related to COVID-19

WINNIPEG — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drag on, doctors in the province are concerned about the long-term mental health of COVID patients.

Dr. Eric Jacobsohn, ICU physician at Health Sciences Centre, says he feels the psychological trauma for those patients will be “immense.”

“I think we’ll have an epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when this all done,” he said.

Rehman Abdulrehman, a clinical psychologist, said PTSD is diagnosed when a person is exposed to a traumatic event.

One of these events could be COVID according to Abdulrehman, who added it has been a threat to people’s lives.

“There would be a series of symptoms that would come as a result of that, that are tied to mood and anxiety,” he said. “The result of the threat of that can cause a great deal of suffering when it comes to mental illness.”

Abdulrehman added while the trauma is causing PTSD, it is also the change in lifestyle for COVID patients that can take a large toll.

“In the event with COVID, there’s been no opportunity to have any prehabilitation. No kind of information, no sense of expectation of what’s going to happen. You know, the diagnosis tends to curve very quickly, the reactions very quick. So people don’t have the opportunity to know what to expect and plan for that. Their life is just altered considerably.”

While patients are suffering, he said health-care providers, especially ICU workers, are being impacted as well.

He said, because the health-care system has been so overwhelmed, it prevents staff from having the ability to help all patients and takes away their sense of control.

“Then you watch all these things fall apart in the health-care system and watching people die is certainly not an easy thing and that would certainly have an impact on people’s view of life and change their overall world view.”

Abdulrehman said he would like to see a broader health care system that addresses mental health and can provide service to those who need it more quickly.

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