Last week I read an article, 7 Red Flags You’re Experiencing Trauma from the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The article discussed symptoms which included the following:

  • Symptoms of increased stress such as stomachaches, headaches, and teeth grinding
  • Avoiding necessary activities such as leaving the house and doctors appointments
  • Nightmares
  • Increases in alcohol, stress-eating, or substance use
  • Inability to cope with daily activities such as your kids, loved ones, or work situations
  • Increased risky behaviors.  They name dangerous driving or risky sexual behaviors

There are a lot of things that they didn’t name though.  I would include in this list several more behaviors such as symptoms of depression and symptoms of grief, especially traumatic grief.

Symptoms of Depression

Experts have been warning us from the beginning of the pandemic that due to the numerous stressors in the world that there would be fall out including a “mental health pandemic.”  Everyone is under increased stressors at work and home.  Raising children has become harder and many are under increased financial stressors with job losses, illness, death, insecure healthcare, and possible housing insecurity.  It’s not a surprise that there has been an increase in anxiety, depression, increased risk for suicides, and an uptake in the drug pandemic.

Depression might feel like many things that may or may not include sadness.  For example:

  • a lack of energy
  • sleeping more, or less
  • lack of interest in activities
  • irritability

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety and depression often come together.  Anxiety can include:

  • excessive worry
  • racing thoughts
  • panic attacks
  • sleep disturbances
    • waking up in the middle of the night
    • insomnia
    • nightmares
  • inability to focus
  • intrusive or negative thought patterns
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • staying at home or avoiding situations

Yet, these symptoms may also give you an opportunity.  Sometimes symptoms of anxiety and depression start as a wake-up call.  The situation can be the start of changes and growth.  I got into this more in my post, what we can learn from anxiety and depression.

Grief Symptoms

Grief isn’t just feeling sad or lonely.  It can feel like depression too and yet it is a natural response to loss.  Everyone experiences grief differently.  Also, the same person can grieve different losses very differently.  Furthermore, grief can dredge up past losses.  This is especially true when previous losses haven’t been fully dealt with.  Kids experience grief differently at different ages and sometimes have to reprocess as they go through different developmental stages.  Complicated grief happens when there are multiple losses in a close time frame.  These situations can be overwhelming and tough.

As you can see, the topic of grief is huge.  I got into more depth about different aspects of grief in other blog posts here:

Traumatic or Disenfranchised Grief

Traumatic grief is grief that occurs when the situation of the death is violent, or the result of that death is traumatic for the survivor.  It may be the case that witnessing a death resulted in trauma or the person’s life situation becomes impossible to bear.  When someone has to immediately change their living situation or does not have enough income to support themselves this may be the case.

Another situation is when someone is either shocked by the unexpected nature of a death or isolation due to COVID restrictions interrupts the grieving process. Funerals are important.  It’s also important that funerals don’t turn into super-spreader events so many are not getting the increased support and communal grieving rituals that they normally would in order to grieve, get support, and heal.

Disenfranchised grief is often not talked about.  Disenfranchised grief occurs when society doesn’t talk about the situation Therefore, the result is the person experiencing grief feels guilty due to not feeling comfortable talking to other people about it.  This occurs in numerous ways including the following:

  • case of miscarriages, stillbirths, or abortions
  • someone who is incarcerated
  • an ex or divorced or estranged person
  • death by suicide or overdose
  • grief due to infertility or the case of something not happening

Honoring and Witnessing Your Grief Process

Honoring your feelings, especially when there are mixed emotions about the situation is vitally important.  Grief can include fear, rage, relief, numbness, guilt, regret, nostalgia, and gratitude.  Your body may feel the grief rather than in your mind and emotions.  Grief can bring up existential questions about who you are, the world, God, and the meaning of human life.  Having a therapist who is willing to “go there” and witness your experience can make all the difference.

I am going to continue to add content about grief and trauma in future blogs.  If you’d like updates when I add new content, you can subscribe to my email list below.  If you feel like you could benefit from support for any of the above concerns, feel free to reach out.