East TN's dreary forecast could play a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder


Psychologists predict 15% of Americans could suffer from post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD after the pandemic.

Some key groups of people include mothers, caregivers, and teachers, as well as people who undergo traumas every day with the pandemic like healthcare workers and first responders.

"[I've noticed] a lot more anxiety, a lot more depression, people just generally feeling unsure," said Journey Psychotherapy Center owner and clinical psychologist Erica Skidmore.

Skidmore works daily to help people handle mental health. She said the need has gone up and that need could keep rising as well.

"We will see more healthcare workers, first responders, really in the year to come," said Skidmore. "It's very, very difficult to treat trauma while that trauma is still occurring."

Another therapist with Journey Psychotherapy Center, Lauren Higgins, said she's seen the same thing and wasn't surprised when studies showed how many people could suffer from PTSD from the pandemic.

"To heal from traumatic events is to go in and connect with people," said Higgins. "That's a little different now because now there's a health impact to the way we might connect."

Higgins said PTSD can show itself in different forms. Some main signs include being hypersensitive and being triggered by certain aspects of the pandemic.

"Especially for people who might already struggle with some obsessive-compulsive disorder tendencies, there could be a heightened trigger for that," said Higgins.

Higgins and Skidmore said trauma can also show up in different ways, whether it's physically or mentally.

"For both of the populations I work with a lot, there's been an increase in possible symptoms of those eating disorder struggles or substance abuse struggles," said Higgins.

They both advise you to be proactive, especially if you have a history of mental health.

"There is absolutely no shame in asking for help," said Skidmore. "PTSD can be a serious mental health condition and it does require help from a professional who's trained in helping people to cope with that."

Higgins and Skidmore recommend listening to friends and family and getting help if those close to you are concerned about your health.

If you're in need of resources, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has a COVID Crisis Counseling program.

There is also an emotional support line for teachers, healthcare workers, and first responders.