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Features

Pandemic PTSD is real and it can happen to you

Here are ways to protect yourself

It's easy to become fearful and anxious during a pandemic, especially if one is socially isolated, too. But help is out there if self-help strategies aren't working for you.
It's easy to become fearful and anxious during a pandemic, especially if one is socially isolated, too. But help is out there if self-help strategies aren't working for you.

Let’s face it: pandemics are stressful.

It’s easy to become fearful and anxious, especially if one is socially isolated, too.

Edward-Elmhurst Health said people who’ve already struggled with anxiety, depression or trauma may be at greater risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

Other risk factors include losing a loved one or being infected with COVID-19, losing a job, having financial concerns or working as a frontline health care worker or first responder.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention lists several signs that the pandemic may be impacting your mental health. These signs include:

• Fear and worry about your health and the health of loved ones, your financial situation or job and the loss of support services you need

• Changes in sleep or eating patterns

• Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

• Worsening of chronic health problems

• Worsening of mental health conditions

• Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.

To help you address any stress or changes in your mental health, Edward-Elmhurst Health offers these seven coping strategies:

• Focus on what can be controlled, not what can’t

• Practice self-care

• Create a daily routine, eat healthy, get good sleep and manage stress

• Engage in healthy distractions, such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness, watching a favorite show, taking walks, listening to music, etc.

• Avoid using alcohol, tobacco or drugs. Unplug from the news, especially before bed

• Focus on positive stories of recovery

• Know that this too shall pass and the pandemic will eventually end

• Stay connected. Being isolated for a long time can trigger symptoms

• Reach out for help. If normal coping skills aren’t working, people may need additional support from a professional therapist.

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