The novel virus, the requirement to implement and ensure a high level of sanitary regime, patient care in extremely difficult and often makeshift conditions, and finally overwork and the need to wait for the results of screening tests. The new pandemic reality is increasing the stress among medics who are caring for the SARS-CoV-2 infected around the world tremendously. This group requires not only our applause, but also a lot of support.
Not only are they at constant risk of being infected and falling ill, but they also experience very high levels of stress from their work during the pandemic. Feeling of helplessness – difficulties and often even inability to cope with difficult situations are no strangers for them, neither are inability to talk about it, irritability, anger, anxiety, fear and sadness. They are no strangers to anxiety and overwhelming panic attacks.
Already in the first months of the epidemic, the French ISNI organization that associates doctors in training, published the results of a survey demonstrating the impact of what they were now facing on their health. The results were staggering – over 47 percent of young doctors struggled with symptoms of anxiety. The research was based on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the revised Weiss and Marmar’s Event Impact Scale (IES-R) – i.e. a self-assessment method designed to subjectively assess the stress triggered by a traumatic event. There are opinions of Polish practitioners that very similar results would be obtained for our doctors, was such a research to be carried out here.
The pandemic is a major stressor
Psychiatrists around the world agree that the situation caused by the pandemic is a major stressor. In certain group of people it will trigger mental dysfunctions in the area of anxiety disorders and depressive mood. The group of medical professions may be the one in which these disorders may appear much more frequently than ever before. However, they will take place after some time, and will most often be deferred. Many scientists also deliberate, whether the ever more frequently PTSD disorders, i.e. Posttraumatic Stress Disorders will be as common and bothersome as it was the case following the 2003 SARS. It is the earlier observations from the SARS time, as well as those from COVID-19, which are almost a year old, that suggest how important it is not only to prevent the spread of the infection, but also to take care of mental condition of medical workers. When faced with extreme events such as pandemics, it is a natural reaction to develop anxiety, depressed mood, and sleeping disorders. Practitioners receiving psychological support under these conditions experience less anxiety, depression and insomnia. All the aforementioned symptoms require support and aid, and their neglecting, and leaving people on their own, can translate into diseases in the future. Much in this regard also depends on the ways of dealing with it, as well as individual predispositions.
The pandemic is a new situation not only for doctors, nurses and paramedics, but also for patients. We all recognize that we have to allow ourselves to adapt to the changes taking place all over the world. Fortunately there are increasing options and access, as well as development of treatment and therapies of all the disorders that threaten us. You can read about how the VR therapy can be of help in treating post-COVID complications by clicking here