As a doctor, I’m worried about a new epidemic – post-lockdown traumatic stress disorder

Lockdowns around the world are helping us to defeat the virus that causes Covid-19, but they may also unleash an even bigger public health crisis

Bilal Hassam
12 hours ago

Research tells us at least one in four of us could suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of the pandemic. PTSD is most common in post-conflict settings. War brings with it fear of harm, loss of life, estrangement from family and friends, and lack of freedom in movement and activities; all conditions paralleled by what we have endured under lockdown.
What I call post-lockdown stress disorder (PLSD) could be a new expression of PTSD, and our health services must prepare us for it now.

Lockdowns around the world may help us defeat the virus, but they may also unleash an even bigger public health crisis. The physical dimension of the pandemic will soon be eclipsed by a mental health pandemic that will last longer, be more resistant to our interventions and perhaps even more deadly than Covid-19.

Most governments have focused their attention on protecting those most vulnerable to the lethal virus while assisting those facing the brunt of the lockdown’s economic destruction. Those most mentally vulnerable, however, have been less of a priority.

As a doctor, I know that even the most severe mental health patients can usually trace their downward spiral to a trigger event like bereavement, losing a job, a divorce, or experiencing abuse or neglect. For most people in the world right now, we are perhaps going through the biggest trigger of our lives and it is no surprise that we have already seen a soaring increase in levels of depression, anxiety, addiction and abuse.

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