A study published April 8th assessed whether veterans have experienced psychological growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants completed a health and resilience survey between November 2019 and early March 2020, and a follow-up between November and December 2020.
Participants were assessed for symptoms of COVID-19-related PTSD, screened for suicidal ideation, and evaluated for something called post-traumatic growth (PTG). PTG is defined by the study authors as “increased personal strength and appreciation of life, improved social relationships, spiritual changes, and new possibilities for one’s life.” PTG is associated with increased resilience to future traumatic events.
The study authors calculated overall levels of PTG among veterans during the pandemic, as well as the breakdown of PTG among those who showed COVID-related PTSD symptoms and those who didn’t. They also assessed how suicidal ideation is impacted by the various measures of PTG.
Psychological Growth in Response to COVID-19
43.3% of the veterans in the study experienced COVID-19-related PTG. The most common positive changes were improvement in relating to others, increased personal strength, and greater appreciation of life.
Of those who screened positive for COVID-19-associated PTSD, 72% showed PTG. That number was 39.1% among veterans who didn’t have PTSD symptoms related to the pandemic. The authors suggest that experiencing COVID-related PTSD symptoms may promote “reflective processing” of the pandemic, possibly explaining the increased rate of psychological growth.
The study also found that increased appreciation of life and improvements in relationships during the pandemic were most closely—and significantly—associated with decreased risk of suicidal ideation.
Resources to Promote Resilience
Psychological growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum. People need support and resources, such as therapy, reciprocal social relationships, healthy outlets, and a wide range of other tools. This study underscores the importance of PTG-promoting interventions for those with PTSD, particularly during a traumatic and ongoing crisis like the pandemic.
If you are struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for mental health disorders and addiction in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you process traumas and build the tools to cope with challenges sober. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.