PTSD, COVID, & Sense of Threat Associated With Somatic Symptoms

With COVID, there has naturally been an elevated sense of stress and fear for many. Those who have had a history of PTSD already have been shown to have a high rates of physical somatic symptoms. This 2021 study highlights how COVID and a sense of threat from COVID were significantly related to multiple somatic symptoms in those with PTSD. Interestingly, what the researchers found was “Sense of threat was associated with the presence of pain (ß = 0.254), fatigue (ß = 0.332), gastrointestinal (ß = 0.234), and cardiovascular symptoms (ß = 0.239).” The sense of danger from COVID really impacted those with pre-exisiting PTSD and elicited multiple somatic symptoms in the body.

What we need to look at more is possible PTSD in many people. It is not screened for or discussed with many healthcare practitioners so can go missing in a patient’s history. It can be the source of a current physical problem or add an underlying stress that can cause the brain and nervous system to overreact and produce very real physical symptoms in the body in relation to anything the brain perceives as dangerous.