Giuseppe Forte et al

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Gerry Gajadharsingh writes:

“PTSD is a psychiatric disorder caused by a terrifying event, perceived as a trauma, which affects directly or indirectly the individual (e.g., severe accident or injury, threat to physical safety, death or threat death, sexual assault, natural disasters, war, etc.)

The pandemic outbreak of an unrecognized infection, with no vaccines or effective medical treatments, such as COVID-19, could be defined as a traumatic experience for its acute and chronic implications at individual and community levels. The COVID-19 outbreak has had a direct effect on the population

A high risk of developing PTSD was evidenced in: (a) survivors who faced the threat of death; (b) healthcare workers, who were overworked with limited safety equipment, and who experienced feelings of powerlessness and helplessness; (c) healthy people who have had direct contacts with the infection, experiencing fear related to the risk of infection; (d) the general population subjected to restrictive measures (e.g., social distancing, quarantine, isolation), and overexposure to media information about the pandemic. All these aspects can generate feelings of isolation, frustration and anticipatory anxiety.

The COVID-19-PTSD questionnaire was developed as a way of evaluating the incidence of PTSD in the COVID 19 pandemic.

A total of 2286 respondents participated in the study. Of the total respondents that started the questionnaires, 98% (2286 out of 2332 people) completed the whole survey and were considered for the statistical analyses. There were 1706 women (74% of the sample). The mean age of the participants was 29.61 (SD = 11.42), and the age ranged between 18 and 74 years.

A high percentage of PTSD symptomatology (29.5%) was found in the Italian population.

I suspect that the UK numbers are similar. There has been a large increase in patients presenting with multiple symptoms where I suspect that underlying anxiety, possible categorised as PTSD, plays a large part in their manifesting symptoms. The challenge will be to help patients decide, if their symptoms are actually medical (COVID 19 does give ongoing symptoms, even after the immune system has fought off the virus), or functional where underlying psychology plays a part, time will tell.”

Abstract: Since December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has attracted worldwide attention for its rapid and exponential diffusion. The long-term psychological impact, of both the spread of the virus and the restrictive policies adopted to counteract it, remains uncertain. However, recent studies reported a high level of psychological distress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms. The purpose of this study is to assess the psychometric properties of a new questionnaire, to evaluate PTSD risk related to the COVID-19 emergency. A total of Italian people completed a web-based cross-sectional survey broadcasted through different social-media. Demographic data and some psychological dimensions, such as general distress and sleep disturbance, were collected. A new self-report questionnaire (COVID-19-PTSD), consisting of 19 items, was developed starting from the PTSD Check List for DSM-5 (PCL-5) questionnaire, and it was administered in order to analyze its psychometric properties. The results highlighted the adequate psychometric properties of the COVID-19-PTSD questionnaire. The confirmatory factor analysis indicated that a seven-factor model (Intrusion, Avoidance, Negative Affect, Anhedonia, Dysphoric arousal, Anxious arousal and Externalizing behavior) best fits the data. Significant correlations were found among COVID-19-PTSD scores, general distress and sleep disturbance. A high percentage of PTSD symptomatology (29.5%) was found in the Italian population. COVID-19-PTSD appears to be effective in evaluating the specific stress symptoms related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Italian population. These results are relevant from a clinical point of view because they suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic could be considered as a traumatic event. Psychological interventions to counteract short- and long-term psychopathological effects, consequent to the COVID-19 pandemic, appear to be necessary.