How Do We Care for Nurses with PTSD?

 In Nurses Weekly

Our front-line heroes who are waging a fierce battle for the victims of COVID-19 may be victims themselves. They may be fighting their own personal war with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is a mental disorder that can arise following a traumatic event.

With all the trauma, illness, sadness and loss COVID-19 has brought, we can’t afford to overlook that PTSD is part of that experience and has been since the beginning of the pandemic.

Both leadership and staff have a responsibility to understand PTSD. Leaders need to be vigilant about protecting and maintaining their staff’s health and well-being—both physical and psychological—and understand that the job challenges they face now can lead to illness later.

Staff needs to look out for one another and understand the pressures some may be feeling. They need to observe how they and their colleagues are responding to those pressures and their patients’ needs.
Everyone needs to know the signs, be ready to identify them, and assist and advocate for those exhibiting them.

It’s not easy to identify who will suffer from PTSD and what it will take to treat it. The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends a combination of psychotherapy and medication, along with various complementary approaches. Usually it takes an individualized approach, which requires patience and resolve on the part of patients to find what works for them. And the support of colleagues can only help.

After all they’ve given, endured and achieved on behalf of others, we need to be able to say we did all we could for them.

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