BETHEL — Denise Thorn, a licensed clinical social worker from The Bethel Health Center, explains how the pandemic and its traumatic experience can affect the mind and body in both the short and long-term.

Thorn argues it was a traumatic experience for everyone.

“When anybody goes through any kind of trauma, and you can consider this as a trauma [the pandemic] because the carpet was ripped out from underneath us,” Thorn begins. “There are so many unknowns. You know back in the beginning we were like ‘what is going on?’”

Thorn discusses how the body and mind work together in a traumatic experience. When the body goes into flight-or-fight mode, the brain starts sending signals all over the body. Adrenaline and noradrenaline (norepinephrine) are zapping through.

Now, in a healthy anxiety scenario, she explains, maybe you’re in a dark parking lot late at night in the city. Your hearing is heightened, your vision is sharpened, these are healthy survival mode physical reactions.

However, when the body is placed in a dangerous, unknown situation for an extended period, these same physical reactions are also extended. Now, if your heartbeat is constantly fast or your breathing is different, you’re experiencing anxiety, and that may feel like an oncoming heart attack for those who have had one.

“These are the trauma responses, and I think for people who haven’t normally experienced it at a heightened level, like, more than what would be a normal amount of anxiety, that can create even more fear,” says Thorn. “Like, what’s going on? We shut everything down and then we open everything back up and shut back down so there’s always this uncertainty, which again, which raises that baseline level of fear.”

While we may not have the ability to change what is going on around us locally or globally, Thorn says to ask yourself, “What do I have within my own power to change?”

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