Ease Wellbeing

Post-Pandemic Stress Disorder (PPSD)


This is taken from an article written in the Daily Mail in 2021.

Back in 2021 as we were in the midst of various government responses to the pandemic, I identified a condition that many people were experiencing and continue to suffer from as a result of isolation and lockdowns called Post-Pandemic Stress Disorder (PPSD).  It is one of the most serious medical challenges to the nation in 100 years – since the midst of the first World War.

Trauma-related illness common in WWI such as shell shock – now known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – are being seen nowadays in people impacted by Covid but PPSD is distinguished by the absence of historical trauma and recognised as the presence of stress, anxiety and a sense of being traumatised by the restrictions of the pandemic and the consequence of not being able to be with each other or to access services as usual.

Military historian Andy Robertshaw – known for the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? – agreed that WWI and the Covid pandemic are comparable. Unless we act now to alleviate the stress, anxiety, trauma and depression young people experienced in the lockdowns, severe long-term consequences are inevitable. While we are still trying to comprehend the number of Covid related deaths, the full ramifications go well beyond that and won’t end with universal vaccination. Today’s children are tomorrow’s adults, if the traumatic consequences of this pandemic are not dealt with, an entire generation will be affected for the next 40 or 50 years. Long-term mental illness is known to reduce life expectancy and healthy life expectancy by as much as 25 years. There is a systemic failure in addressing the mental effects of Covid-19, particularly on young people. Up to four million 10 to 24-year-olds could require treatment for mental health problems in the next twelve months. 

Mr Robertshaw also told MailOnline that relatives of World War One soldiers received letters saying their loved ones had disappeared, meaning they never got closure of a traditional funeral. He said: ‘This is comparable [today] because we see people go away in an ambulance and we can’t be by their bedside. It is the not knowing that may cause problems, the not being there’. And of course, the closure of a proper funeral with [more than 30] people. Another factor of the First World War was the massive survivor guilt felt by soldiers who safely returned – which can still be felt today. But even so, in WWI people knew ‘why their relatives had died and were willing to accept that’. He said the main problem with Britons’ mental health was in the years after the war as people were ‘expected to get on with their lives’ and ‘get over it’ – which may be a concern once ‘everybody gets the vaccine’ and the country emerges from lockdown. 

In recent years PTSD has become a diagnosis that embraces the psychological response to various forms of trauma, abuse, neglect as well as heightened anxiety or fear. These same symptoms are now being experienced by individuals and families impacted by Covid. Whether the stress caused by increasing financial uncertainties or bereavement from losing loved ones, the wider effect of Covid is being felt far beyond the virus itself. 

There is a very real possibility life expectancy could decline for the first time in 100 years as a result.  This has now been shown to have been the case in the figures published by the ONS 2021-22.  

Tahir Hussain – a consultant vascular surgeon at Northwick Park Hospital – said: ‘The mental health fall out from Covid will be felt for years – not just by front-line workers but also by the younger generation who have missed out on so many life events. The Children’s Commissioner has already warned that mental health services in England are struggling to cope with the impact of the pandemic on children. Anne Longfield, the commissioner for England, said that despite an expansion in recent years the provision of treatment for child mental health problems was already falling well short of demand.