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COVID–19 járvány hatása a pszichiátriai megbetegedések gyakoriságára – PTSD

Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the incidence of psychiatric illnesses – PTSD

Scientia et Securitas
Mária Zsóka Bellavics
Zsombor Hermann
, and
József Haller

Összefoglaló. A poszttraumás stressz zavar (PTSD) egy súlyos mentális állapot, amely nehezen gyógyítható, és évtizedeken keresztül fennállhat. Gyakorisága 1–3%-ról világszerte 20% körülire emelkedett a COVID–19 járvány után. Az észlelt gyakoriság nem függött a vizsgált populációk érintettségétől: a gyakoriság közel azonos volt fertőzöttek, karanténba kerültek, pusztán életmódváltozást elszenvedők és egészségügyi szakemberek körében. Ez vetekszik a háborús helyzetekben tapasztaltakkal, azzal a különbséggel, hogy a modern háborúk a világ népességének kis részét, míg a járvány az emberiség tekintélyes részét érintette. A COVID–19 járvány lecsengése után tehát számolnunk kell azokkal a pszichiátriai jellegű károkkal is, amelyeket maga mögött hagy, köztük a PTSD áldozataival.

Summary. Almost 20 years ago McNally (2003) wrote a paper on the Vietnam War with the title “Psychiatric Casualties of War”, outlining that people may suffer psychological injuries in war beyond those that harm them physically. Like wars, epidemics also have “psychiatric casualties” e.g., people who avoid the dangers of the epidemic per se but do not survive the situation without harm. One possible form of impairment is psychiatric in nature; this category includes among others post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study addresses the question of how how much concern the COVID-19 epidemic raises in the long run for an increased incidence of PTSD. PTSD is a severe and difficult-to-treat mental disorder caused by traumatic stress i.e., an event that threatens life and/or physical integrity. It is usually attributed to disasters, war, and interpersonal violence, but it can also be caused by serious illness such as AIDS and cancer. The COVID-19 epidemic conforms to the concept of trauma in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as the disease it causes is potentially life threatening. Thus, even a purely logical approach suggests that the epidemic may increase the incidence of PTSD, an assumption that is confirmed by numerous targeted studies. The pre-epidemic PTSD morbidity rate of 1-3% has risen to around 20% globally over the past year due to the COVID-19 epidemic. PTSD affected not only those who fell victim to the disease, but also those who have “merely” witnessed the development and spread of the disease, those who have been placed in preventive quarantine, and healthcare workers who have had the burden of treating the epidemic. Behind the global 20%, an uneven picture emerges. In certain populations and at certain times, the frequency was reported to be much lower (e.g., 8%) or much higher (e.g., 96%), depending on the specifics of the study participants, as well as the place and time of the investigation. Overall, however, the post-epidemic prevalence of PTSD appears to rival that observed in war situations, such as the Vietnam War. The difference is that modern wars mostly affect a small portion of the world’s population, while the COVID-19 epidemic affects almost the entire humanity. Recent events suggest that the epidemic will soon recede. However, the epidemic leaves behind a large number of people who have sustained long-lasting and severe mental injuries - including those who have developed PTSD. Tackling this problem is the task for the future, but it must be prepared in advance. To this end, the study also briefly maps the factors of inborn and acquired resilience in a new network science approach.

Open access