Study: Nearly One-Third of COVID Survivors May Have PTSD

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Everyone on the planet has had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic on some level. Things that we overlooked or took for granted as everyday in nature were suddenly no longer an option, and we all found ourselves isolated to some degree. It’s been a year now, and while certain things have changed, we still face enormous challenges that may not end anytime soon. All of this adjusting and changing takes its toll on everyone, and for some, that toll has been and is continuing to prove to be heavy. This message was only reinforced recently when a study revealed that nearly one-third of COVID survivors who were part of the study developed PTSD, or at the very least symptoms associated with it.

SoCal Empowered is an Orange County PTSD treatment center that works with people on an inpatient basis, and we can attest to the fact that this pandemic has left a wake of extreme damage behind and is continuing to do so. Below we’re going to delve into the particulars of the PTSD study and its results in hopes that people will start to realize that there are tangible consequences to having everyone’s life turned on its ear.

About the COVID PTSD Study

The study was done in Italy, and while it was small in size, it seems likely that it’s going to prompt additional analysis with regards to PTSD and COVID. Specifically, researchers analyzed 381 patients between the dates of April 21 and October 15, 2020 who had survived an acute form of COVID that they battled anywhere between 30 and 120 days. 166 of the subjects were women and the mean age was just over 55.

  • The study uncovered the following data:
  • 115 participants, or 30.2 percent, had PTSD.
  • 64 of these 115 subjects who had PTSD were women.
  • 66 people, or more than 17 percent had suffered from depressive episodes.
  • 27 people were diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.

The study’s abstract can be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers conclude that much more study is needed given the prevalence of PTSD found in this relatively small sample size in one country.

What the PTSD Study Means

The most obvious point to draw from this COVID PTSD study is that people are being harmed in ways that you cannot necessarily see physically as a result of this pandemic. We’ve covered this in detail here and here, and it’s likely that other mental health challenges will gain in prevalence as we continue to study this issue and the overall aftereffects of the pandemic. What’s perhaps more troubling is that in many ways, the restrictions and changes required by COVID-19 are either continuing or being brought back into place in some regards, which in itself could present its own set of difficulties.

About PTSD

PTSD is a mental health disease that’s undergone quite a journey since people began talking about it. Around 100 years ago, soldiers who returned from World War I had trouble coping with everyday life, and their condition was known as Shellshock. Later on in the 20th Century, after World War II, combat veterans who were struggling were said to have Soldier’s Heart. That term eventually morphed into Combat Fatigue before PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder, began to be used widely.

One of the unfortunate connotations of these terms is that a lot of people assumed that PTSD was limited to those who had been through combat. While that certainly represents a large group of PTSD sufferers, they are hardly alone. According to, PTSD is defined as:

A psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.”

The ADAA, or the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, lists common symptoms of PTSD that include:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares.
  • Emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma.
  • Increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated and angered.

PTSD Statistics

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs:

  • About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
  • About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%).


What we can really take from this COVID-19 PTSD study is that while PTSD is extremely prevalent in the United States population, it’s quite likely that the pandemic has exacerbated this problem for an untold number of people. It also means that as time goes on, more people are likely going to encounter symptoms and perhaps need help managing this mental health condition. PTSD will not go away on its own, so professional treatment is the best answer for dealing with it.

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

If you believe that you or someone you love may be suffering from PTSD because of the pandemic or for any other reason, you need to do what’s necessary to get the help that you need. SoCal Empowered is an Orange County PTSD treatment facility that helps people in this difficult situation every day. All you need to do is contact us to speak to one of our professionals, and we’ll be able to help guide you towards the next step. If you need treatment and you want to work with us, we will even deal with your insurance company to determine coverage before you commit. Contact us today to begin the process of putting this challenge in the past.

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