The past year has been hard on nearly everyone, and especially difficult for healthcare workers who are experiencing burnout in an entirely new way. The Doctors warn that burnout can lead to serious issues like depression and PTSD.
A study found that more than half of doctors, nurses, and emergency responders involved in COVID-19 care may be at risk for 1 or more mental health issues like acute traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, problematic alcohol use, and insomnia. These issues are leading to burnout for many healthcare workers and some worry the effects may be felt long after the pandemic is under control.
Nurse practitioner Sophia knows this struggle all too well as she has worked on the frontline caring for patients with COVID. "We've seen more death and pain this year than we've seen our entire careers," she says, explaining anxiety levels are at an all-time high for her coworkers.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Judy Ho explains burnout is a diagnosable condition and can include symptoms like:
- Overwhelming exhaustion
- Cynicism and detachment
- A sense of decreased effectiveness
- Can also correlate with depression, PTSD, and vicarious trauma
- Issues regulating emotions
- Increased risk for psychical issues including coronary disease
- Increased fight or flight response, including elevated blood pressure and cortisol levels
To cope with these seemingly impossible COVID-related hurdles, the nurse practitioner says she is attempting to make time for herself, making sure to rest, and she is trying to connect with her colleagues who are dealing with the same struggles.