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COVID-19 Added To List of Leading Causes of Psychological Trauma

Why do we keep talking about the coronavirus? Because unlike the flu, to-date, there is no vaccine, it is easily spread from person to person, it affects the mental well-being of the sick and the healthy, and it can be life-threatening to family, coworkers, neighbors, and friends. In 2020, the mental health community added COVID-19 to combat duty, major accidents, child abuse, and sexual violence, as a leading cause of psychological trauma or PTSD.

Psychological trauma is defined as observing or experiencing a violent act, physical injury, or a life threatening event. Witnessed mental illness, domestic abuse, and physical injury in others, and/or the unexpected death of a loved one can cause seniors, adults, teens, and children to suffer emotional trauma.

PTSD develops when symptoms from a distressing event (such as a pandemic) disrupts daily functioning and the ability to cope. It can result in damaging illnesses and mental disorders throughout one’s lifetime. Mental illness, behavior disorders, and psychological trauma must be diagnosed and treated by a licensed mental health specialist. Improving Lives Counseling Services’ team of professional counselors and therapists have the knowledge, skills, and training required to treat these and other mental illnesses.

We are all learning to accept the uniqueness of living and functioning during a pandemic. Feeling anxious, fearful, isolated, and insecure, is normal. Many however experience extreme helplessness, chronic stress, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. They see COVID-19 as a direct threat to their life and to the lives of others. Their intrusive self talk, nightmares,irritability, angst, and lack of concentration are common reactions to a traumatic event.

“Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.” (

PTSD is more common than previously thought, with recent studies diagnosing it in children as young as one. With stress and trauma often hidden, or symptoms thought to be normal for the world we live in today, it can be difficult to recognize or identify signs and symptoms of trauma. This is why Improving Lives Counseling Services’ mental health check-ups are so important – particularly for children, adolescents, teens, and seniors. These populations, wanting to “keep the peace”, or “not rock the boat”, often hide feelings, fears, and anxiety. Loved ones of the elderly sheltered in nursing homes and long-term care facilities summon emotional events and distressing self-talk: “Who’s caring for mom”, “is dad getting his medicine”, “is grandma socially isolated”, “does grandpa still know who I am”. Patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 experience physical discomfort, fear of survival, and social isolation. The longer the hospitalization, the greater the risk (to patient and immediate family) of psychological trauma and mind-altering PTSD. Deeply disturbing, this is our new reality and why we continue to talk about the pandemic and the importance of maintaining mental health and mental well-being. It’s time for your “check-up from the neck-up”. There’s a bit of humor in the phrase, however, the meaning behind the words can be lifesaving.


Don’t allow a stigma, culture, dogma, or family member prevent you from being the best you can be – physically and mentally. Improving Lives Counseling Services treats children, adolescents, teens, adults, and seniors in individual, couples, family, and group sessions, virtually (online) and in social-distancing / mask wearing, in-person sessions. Live the life you were meant to live. Call us at 918-960-7852 or book your appointment online today.