March 9, 2021

Anniversary Reaction to COVID-19: What Every Professional Needs to Know

The first case of COVID-19 diagnosed in Canada was on January 25th, 2020. One year later media headlines on January 25th, 2021 emphasized it has been a whole year since that occasion as if it was a moment of awe. But the country was probably in more of a state of denial than awe in early 2020.

In our work in trauma response we heed the phrase that ‘trauma is stored in the body at the cellular level’ which means that the conscious brain can try to deny the impact of profound loss or trauma but the body always remembers. With that theme, in both the Traumatic Event Systems (TES™) Model and the Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA™) Model we have identified five key “Critical Periods” defined as “predictable timeframes for increased symptom development” for those impacted by trauma. These are intensified when an entire human system is exposed to the same traumatic experience: in this case, a worldwide pandemic! They are as follows:

First Critical Period:  First two weeks post-traumatic incident or loss.
Second Critical Period:  The lead-up to the Christmas/Holidays in December.
Third Critical Period:  Anniversary reactions.
Fourth Critical Period:  When current traumatic events from elsewhere remind of us of past trauma because of similarities between our and their experience.
Fifth Critical Period:  Triggers unique to our own experiences that have been encoded as traumatic stimuli or neutral traumatic stimuli like a sight, sound, smell or touch.

For more information and to view the accompanying video please visit:

Anniversary Reaction to COVID-19