Most British COVID-19 mourners suffer PTSD symptoms: survey

More than eight out of 10 British people who are seeking support for having lost a loved one to COVID-19 reported alarming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, new Curtin University-led research has found.
The study, based on data from people seeking help and guidance from the United Kingdom’s National Bereavement Partnership in collaboration with researchers from the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition and Christopher Newport University in the United States of America, also found almost two-thirds of British COVID-19 mourners experienced moderate or severe symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Lead author Professor Lauren Breen, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said the results were alarming given more than six million people had died from COVID-19 across the globe.
“These survey results indicate a concerning ’shadow pandemic’ in the wake of a COVID-19 death with the vast majority of British mourners reporting alarming rates of psychological distress including constantly feeling on guard or easily startled,” Professor Breen said.
“The mourners who were seeking support from the National Bereavement Partnership also reported concerning symptoms of anxiety and depression, dysfunctional grief including wanting to die in order to be with their loved one, and functional impairment that was affecting their home and family responsibilities.”
According to the UK’s dedicated PTSD charity, PTSD UK, about 20 per cent of all PTSD cases worldwide are linked to the unexpected death of a loved one.
To date, there have been more than 175,000 COVID-19-related deaths in the United Kingdom.
Professor Breen said the findings had significant implications for counsellors in the UK, particularly in light of modelling that showed an average of nine family members were affected by each COVID-19 death.
“Counsellors in the UK should be alert to a broad band of pandemic-related psychological distress in people who have lost a loved one to COVID-19, and not concentrate solely on symptoms of grief,” Professor Breen said.
“In particular, these findings underscore the need to screen for high levels of trauma as well as grief, for potential referral to counsellors with specialised skills in treating the intersection of trauma and bereavement.”
Co-author Dr Robert Neimeyer, a leading bereavement researcher and the Director of the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition, said the study suggested a useful focus for support and therapy for COVID-19 loss survivors.
“We found that much of the struggle that mourners reported in terms of intense PTSD symptoms, anguishing grief, and perturbing depression and anxiety was explained by the difficulty they had in making sense of a senseless loss, and preserving their orientation in a bewildering, threatening and disempowering world,” Dr Neimeyer said.
“Not only did they lose their loved ones, but they also lost a sense of predictability, justice and control over the circumstances of the loss – all of which could be crucial themes to address in bereavement support and therapy.”
The study was based on surveys completed by 183 people seeking support from the National Bereavement Partnership in the United Kingdom.
Of those surveyed, 83 per cent reported clinically elevated PTSD symptoms, 64 per cent experienced psychiatric distress, 57 per cent suffered functional impairment and 39 per cent reported clinically significant symptoms of dysfunctional grief.
The research was carried out by Associate Professor Sherman Lee, from Christopher Newport University, Dr Robert Neimeyer, from the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition, Michaela Willis, from the National Bereavement Partnership, and Professor Lauren Breen and Dr Vincent Mancini, both from the Curtin School of Population Health.
The full paper, ’Grief and Functional Impairment following COVID-19 Loss in a Treatment-seeking’, can be viewed in the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling online here.
CRICOS Provider Code: 00301J ABN: 99 143 842 569 TEQSA: PRV12158
Curtin University would like to pay our respect to the indigenous members of our community by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which the Perth campus is located, the Wadjuk people of the Nyungar Nation; and on our Kalgoorlie campus, the Wongutha people of the North-Eastern Goldfields.

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Palay-Palay  National ParkAbout PagudpudFive Levels of Aguinid FallsIntroducing San Pascual, MasbateMount Manmanoc ItineraryAdventures in Fortune Island of Nasugbu | LakwatseroNext Level Mobile Photography with Sony Xperia XZ1 | LakwatseroScuba Diving in Siargao: Discovering the Underwater Treasures of Daku Island | LakwatseroAbout Davao CityHow to Get to AndaJanuary: Cebu & IloiloHow to Get to Mines View ParkKamay ni Hesus: Pilgrimage Site in Lucban | LakwatseroPoon Hill: Three Days of Himalayan AdventureCalvary Hill Cemetery of SagadaHow to Get to TambobongMilford SoundTen Things To Do in Sagada: Bucket List for NewbiesDahoyhoy FallsPilot for a Day: The Ultra Light Aircraft Experience | LakwatseroReal Coffee and Tea Cafe of Boracay | LakwatseroGhorepani Poon Hill TrekAbout Maniwaya IslandHow to Get to Binanga FallsPalo Alto Falls of Baras, Rizal | LakwatseroExplore Moscow: Best Things to Do in the City | LakwatseroStairway to HeavenMount Guiting-Guiting Overnight Trek Complete ItineraryCape Melville LighthouseLa Cathedral Café: Restaurant with a View in IntramurosKapurpurawan Rock Formation: White and BeautifulDay Hike ItineraryThe Sandbox at AlvieraHow to go to Mararison IslandA Weekend of Adventures in South Cebu and DumagueteCalayan Island: A Virtual Diary of Our Epic Journey | LakwatseroFaro de Isla Jintotolo (Jintotolo Island Lighthouse)Low’s PeakAbout Taal VolcanoHow to Get to Mag-aso Falls of BoholSamar: Biri Rock Formations Up Close | LakwatseroBonbon BeachIntroducing Jomalig IslandAbout Cotabato CityAbout TabukLeyte Landing Memorial: A Memorial for a Fulfilled Promise | LakwatseroSilyang Bato, Mount MaramiPanimahawa Ridge and Cedar Falls Day Hike ItineraryFun in the World’s Best IslandSample Albay ItinerariesMagpupungko Beach and Tidal Pools6 Tips for Living in the Philippines | LakwatseroDaraga Church: The Nuestra Señora dela Porteria ChurchTulgao Rice TerracesCape Melville Lighthouse (Faro del Cabo Melville)Canyoneering to Kawasan FallsLake FewaLong Weekend: Five-Day Suggested Itineraries in Luzon | LakwatseroAbout CaponesThe Wichcraft Café of Zamboanga City | LakwatseroHow to Get to GuiuanAll-Female FloorHow to Get to Neri’s VilleDiotay’s EateryShort but Sweet Melaka Getaway | LakwatseroHow to Get to Tinuy-An FallsOslob: The Lost Grandeur of Tumalog Falls | LakwatseroIlocos ItineraryDitumabo Falls: The Mother Falls of San Luis, Aurora!Biking in Kalinga: Trek and Bike to TabukParadise Garden: A Haven for Sea TurtlesSiargao: Magpupungko Beach and Tidal Pools | LakwatseroAbout Bucas GrandeCoral GardenSagadaA Walk in Sangay Siapo Island Before it is Gone? | LakwatseroAmbaguio-Akiki ItineraryCorregidor Island Lighthouse (Faro dela Isla de Corregidor)Faro de Punta de Malabrigo (Malabrigo Point Lighthouse)About CulionNaidi Hill LighthouseBoquete IslandHow to Commute to Temple of LeahCatanduanes: The Heritage Church of Bato | Lakwatsero1. White Water Rafting or KayakingMount Fuji Overnight Climb ItinerarySip & Gogh Paint Studio: Unleash Your Inner Van Gogh | LakwatseroBatanes ItineraryHow to Get to Quitinday HillsAbout Callao CaveDiscover LakawonBiking to Taal: A Fun Ride to Batangas’ Heritage TownAntique Blooming: The Rafflesia of San RemigioMalasimbo Lights and Dance FestivalBacolod ItineraryPoon HillAttractions in Mirador Heritage and Eco ParkHulhumale Public BeachRomblon Island: Bonbon Beach, Tiamban Beach & MoreAdventure in Sabah: White Water Rafting in Padas River | LakwatseroHow to Get to Hinakpan Mystical HillsWelcome to Lake SebuAbout CasiguranAbout BuscalanHow to Go to Kalanggaman IslandFaro de Cabo Bojeador (Cape Bojeador Lighthouse)Backpacking Maldives: Budget Itinerary, Expenses & TipsHow to Get ThereOffbeat Bohol Itinerary: 3D/2N of AdventuresHow to Get to Tawi-TawiAlona BeachPangilatan Falls: The Forgotten Gem of Tapaz, CapizWorld War I: SMS Cormoran II3D/2N Taiwan Itinerary: Taipei – Yehliu – ShiffenLaos for Backpackers: Getting There on a BudgetBasic RequirementsHow to Get to Antong FallsCathedral CaveHow to Go to Gubat, SorsogonAbout SadangaHow to Get to Bugui Point LighthouseHow to Get to Cabra Island LighthouseCebu Itinerary: Three-Day Adventures in the SouthAbout AndaLuna: A Day in the Show Window of Apayao | LakwatseroMargues Blue LagoonFinding Palaui’s Cape Engaño Lighthouse | LakwatseroHow to Get to Mantayupan Falls of Barili, CebuHow to Get to MaligcongLinapacan Islands: Between Paradise | LakwatseroKLIA to KLCCHow to Get to JomaligBanaug ShoalEspadang Bato – Payaran Falls Day Hike Itinerary10 Remarkable Philippine Destinations for Solo TravelMiagao Church: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in IloiloAbout Carbin ReefAbout Parola IslandCabra WreckageCobra Falls: Ozamiz City’s Best Kept SecretBasco: The Chapel on the Hill of Tukon | LakwatseroBack in Kathmandu’s Lovely Mess | LakwatseroHimalayan Adventure: Kathmandu to Pokhara Overland | LakwatseroItineraryChinatown Vancouver (Stop #23)Situbo Falls: Tampilisan's Awesome SurpriseHow to Get to Inambakan FallsTuasan Falls: Another Camiguin’s Charmer | LakwatseroHow to Get to Lake SebuMarinduque Loop: Biking in the Heart of the Philippines1. 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