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Covid-19 Stress Like 911

In a recent MedScape article, Lloyd I. Sederer, MD, former NYC mental health commissioner, commented that the attacks on the World Trade Center "mounted the largest mental health response in history". On May 7, 2020, Healthline journalist Kimberly Holland pointed out the number of Americans reporting sustained increases of anxiety, fear, and depression is well above historical norms. Higher than 911? That's scary.

We are experiencing a pandemic of fear. That fear debilitates our mental acuity. How can we make rational decisions with our brains focused on foraging for toilet paper and canned tuna. Forget physical and psychological balance. We don't feel positive emotions in survival mode. Chronic fear, like what we are in now, forms memory in the nervous system making us uptight, frozen, often irrational, and unhealthy. Good news is we also possess an evolutionary drive to re-establish homeostasis.

Much of the trauma from this pandemic is unconscious. It won't resolve itself. If feeling anxious or depressed, on edge, unable to sleep, fatigued, or having obsessive thoughts, drinking excessively, or over-eating, talking with a counselor would help, before you start socially re-integrating. If the breadth and depth of trauma from Covid imitates 911, it will be years before our built-in drive for balance finds equilibrium. It definitely wont be a joy ride.

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