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How Long COVID Survivors Can Manage Mental Health, According to Therapists

0 2 years ago

If you or someone close to you is dealing with long COVID, you know how disruptive it can be. Long COVID, also known as post-COVID conditions, is described as a wide range of unique, reoccurring, or ongoing symptoms that people experience four or more weeks after getting COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Long COVID has many physical symptoms—fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing, headaches, and changes in sense of smell or taste—but the chronic condition has mental health considerations, as well.

Neurological COVID-19 symptoms like depression, anxiety, and brain fog impact mental health. However, the psychological toll of ongoing symptoms and lack of concrete answers can increase mental health risks. “We can experience an intense sense of isolation and deep anxiety when we experience uncertainty,” says S Anandavalli, PhD, an assistant professor in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Southern Oregon University. “Prolonged exposure to uncertainty can certainly elevate our anxiety levels, hypervigilance, and just a general sense of worry.”

Many long-COVID patients, especially those in the first wave, reported that healthcare professionals ignored or minimized their symptoms. Some patients say they were denied testing or treatment, which lead to severe mental health repercussions, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Additionally, long COVID patients might experience ableism, which can impact mental health. “When you are disabled, you have to adjust how you operate because you are not able to do things you could do before,” says Lauren Nichols, long COVID activist and vice president of Body Politic, a hub for resources and support groups. Missing past hobbies and not being able to go through life, in the same way, can increase distress. “Every single symptom of long COVID has a mental health risk,” Nichols explains. Below, therapists weigh in on how to manage the mental health implications of long COVID.


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