Long-Haul Covid and its Effects on Mental Health
COVID-19 has been in the news now for well over 18 months, and it has affected millions of people all over the world. The aftereffects of it remained to be seen for a long time, but now, it is clear that a condition doctors are calling long-haul Covid is becoming an issue for many who have recovered from the disease.
For many people, the long Covid effects that they are experiencing have put a significant strain, not just on their physical health, but on their mental health as well. It is important for people who may be experiencing the long-term effects of COVID-19 to know that they are not alone and that help is available to treat their symptoms.
What is Long-Haul Covid?
Long-haul Covid – or post-Covid, as it is sometimes called – refers to the presence of symptoms that have persisted for more than one month after they began, following recovery from COVID-19. It is a condition that includes respiratory and neurological issues as well as other physical health symptoms.
Lingering health issues following a diagnosis of COVID-19 can have an impact on a person’s mental health. But researchers believe that when some patients have COVID-19, the presence of the disease in their brains can lead to neurological problems. Those problems are experienced as mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and even brain fog.
Many Covid long-haulers are suffering. Because this condition is new, finding the right treatment remains a challenge for doctors. The New England Journal of Medicine has even stated that “‘long-haul Covid’ is our next public health disaster in the making.”
What are the Symptoms of Post Covid?
COVID-19 has been treated as an acute respiratory virus since the pandemic first began. Its symptoms can linger when people get the disease, and many people are suffering as a result.
Some of the most common symptoms of long Covid include:
- Problems breathing, including getting short of breath easily.
- Having heart palpitations.
- Having fevers that may come and go.
- The onset of autoimmune disorders.
- The onset of allergies.
- Some people even experience seizures, changes in motor function and perception, and strokes.
Neurological and mental health symptoms are also common in long-haulers. In fact, as many as 80% of people who have recovered from COVID-19 state that they experience brain fog. There are other symptoms they report as well, such as:
- Feeling fatigued
- Physical pain
- Feeling numb
- Cognitive impairment
Understanding the Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 and Mental Health
Neurological symptoms such as pain and fatigue are often to blame for depression in long-haulers, according to Dr. Philip Fizur of Cooper Hospital in Camden, New Jersey. He says that at this point it is difficult to tell if patients are experiencing mental health issues that stem from neurological symptoms, or if patients are just having a stress reaction to their COVID-19 symptoms.
In some patients, the depression and anxiety they are currently experiencing are related to having the virus. But in others who may have been depressed or anxious previously, their mental health symptoms have only gotten worse after having the disease.
Regardless of whether these patients’ mental health symptoms occurred as an immediate symptom of COVID-19 or not, the fact is that many people are suffering from them. More than anything, they need to know that the support they need is there for them.
Living with Long Covid Effects
The effects of long Covid can strike out of nowhere. These individuals often feel depressed or anxious, and some even state that the severity of their neurological symptoms resulted in them being bedridden for a period of time.
The stress that accompanies the effects of long-haul Covid can easily lead to mental health issues. People may find that they are no longer able to work and be as productive as they once were. They tend to measure themselves as they are now against who they used to be, or against what other people can do that they cannot, such as work an eight-hour day.
Still, the fact that there are no hard and fast answers regarding symptoms, and the long-term outlook can be discouraging and contribute to even more mental health issues. That is why it is important for people to get the support they need right away. Anxiety, depression, and even brain fog can linger for months, and possibly even years.
How are Long-Haul Covid Mental Health Symptoms Treated?
People with long Covid-related mental health symptoms need treatment in order to feel better. Dr. Fizur says that it is important for mental health professionals to work closely with patients’ medical doctors to treat and determine which symptoms actually have neurological roots.
There are several treatment options he recommends, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy. The goal is to improve sleep, depression symptoms, and other concerns. It can be especially challenging for people to live with debilitating symptoms and yet, look as though nothing is wrong with them at all from the outside. That alone can contribute to how they feel, and it can even lead to lingering mental health concerns.
Do You Have Long-Haul Covid Mental Health Symptoms? Get Help Today
At Mindful Care, we understand the challenges that long-haulers face. We know that the fact that their symptoms are largely misunderstood can contribute to depression and anxiety. We want people to know that there are options available that can help them.
Just as Dr. Fizur suggested, it is critical for mental health disorders to be treated in people with long-haul Covid. This might mean a combination of therapy and medication, as well as other therapeutic interventions.
If you are experiencing mental health issues like brain fog or symptoms of anxiety and depression, you are not alone. Treatment is available that can help. Mindful Care can help.