COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the world, including both physical and mental health. While many people have recovered from the acute symptoms of the virus, a growing number of individuals are reporting symptoms that persist for months, a phenomenon referred to as “Long COVID.” In addition to the physical symptoms, COVID-19 also has a significant impact on mental health.
What is Long COVID?
Long COVID is a term used to describe the ongoing symptoms experienced by some people who have had COVID-19. These symptoms can persist for weeks or months and can include:
- shortness of breath or breathing difficulty
While these are the most common, other diverse and wide-ranging symptoms that may possibly occur include:
- Neurological or psychiatric symptoms which may manifest as issues with concentration and thinking, headaches, sleep difficulties, dizziness upon standing, tingling sensations, and changes to one’s sense of smell or taste, as well as depression or anxiety.
- Aches and pains in joints and muscles
- Cardiac symptoms or conditions, including chest pain and an accelerated or pounding heartbeat
- Gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea and stomach pain
- Blood clots and problems with blood vessels, including pulmonary embolism caused by a blood clot in the lungs
- Other symptoms like skin rashes or changes in menstrual cycles
It can also be incredibly challenging to determine if these symptoms are related to COVID-19 or another underlying medical condition.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms (whether you believe its from long covid or something else), it’s best to talk with your doctor.
Long-term effects of COVID on Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health, with many people experiencing increased levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Not only is the psychological strain taxing, but when coupled with physical manifestations, it can be devastating.
The unrelenting physical and cognitive symptoms that come with long COVID can gradually wear down a person’s hope, optimism, and emotional stability.
But what can cause it?
- The physical symptoms of long COVID can also contribute to mental health issues, as individuals struggle with the ongoing impact of the virus.
- The social and economic impact of the pandemic has also taken a toll on mental health, with job loss and financial insecurity leading to increased levels of stress and anxiety.
- Severe COVID-19 symptoms could also be a contributing factor. In many cases, individuals with serious indications of the virus require ICU treatment; this can cause noteworthy debilitation and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an emotional wellness condition that is instigated by a terrible experience.
Although researchers are still uncovering the long-term effects of COVID-19, some preliminary studies suggest that a significant portion of patients experience mental health problems months after initial infection.
Unfortunately, data on the emergence and prevalence of these symptoms is inconsistent at best.
Research has indicated that a considerably high percentage of those who have contracted COVID-19 and are enduring long-term symptoms develop mental health concerns, with some studies putting the figure at 13%, while others suggest it is as high as 20% according to former American Medical Association (AMA) president Patrice Harris.
The Importance of Mental Health Support
It is important for individuals who have experienced Long COVID to seek support for their mental health. This can include talking to a mental health professional, participating in support groups, or engaging in self-care practices such as exercise, meditation, and mindfulness.
And of course, you should talk to your primary care physician about any mental or physical symptoms you may be experiencing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on both physical and mental health, with long COVID and its ongoing symptoms adding to the burden. It is important for individuals to seek support for their mental health, whether it is through professional help or self-care practices. By doing so, we can ensure that the long-term effects of COVID-19 on mental health are minimized, and individuals can recover and thrive in the aftermath of the pandemic.