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What Nevadans Need To Know About Post-Pandemic Trauma

John Locher/Associated Press

A masked gambler throws dice at the Mohegan Sun Casino at the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas. The up-and-down nature of the pandemic and the changing public health regulations add to the stress that can manifest itself as emotional problems.

The pandemic has taken a toll even on those untouched by the coronavirus.

Enduring more than a year of death, illness, and economic dislocation has left many living in fear, suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. A new survey by teleheath company Hims and Hers Health found that 70 percent of Americans feel anxious about returning to their pre-pandemic lives.   

Anne-Marie Abruscato, a visiting lecturer in UNLV’s school of social work, said the grinding and confusing nature of the pandemic adds to its psychological toll.

“So all of this uncertainty, not knowing how long we were going to be having to isolate ourselves, not knowing how long it's going to be, you know, until there's a vaccine, all of that was unprecedented,” she told State of Nevada.

Abruscato said post-traumatic stress can affect people’s most basic emotional well-being.

“This type of stress can cause feelings of fear, frustration, people being worried, people having difficulty concentrating and making decisions, having difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep,” she said.  

Also, the pandemic left many isolated and without their traditional support networks, adding to the challenges for those already suffering emotionally. 

“If they were experiencing depression before the pandemic, it got worse during the pandemic, because there were even less opportunities to connect with other people,” Abruscato said.

She said addressing the trauma starts with individuals watching out for family, friends, and acquaintances.

“It's important that we are checking in with each other,” Abruscato said.

“What you might see is people just having a hard time relaxing, people having a hard time staying still, being comfortable. Pacing,” she said. “Things like that might alert you that they're in a level of distress, and they might need a little bit of extra support.”

Abruscato encourages those who might be suffering to consider seeking professional help.

“There can be a little bit of anxiety, what's this going to be like? I don't want to tell this complete stranger what's going on with me,” she said, “but usually once people have the experience … they see how helpful it can be.

“These are tools that you can take with you for the rest of your life.”

Anne-Marie Abruscato, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Visiting Lecturer, UNLV

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Zachary Green is the Coordinating Producer and a Reporter for KNPR's State of Nevada Program. He reports on Clark County, minority affairs, health, real estate, business, and gardening. You'll occasionally hear Zachary Green reporting and fill-in hosting on the State of Nevada program.